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About this Poem 

“Passers-By” was published in Sandburg’s book Chicago Poems (H. Hold and Company, 1916).

Passers-by

Passers-by,
Out of your many faces
Flash memories to me
Now at the day end
Away from the sidewalks
Where your shoe soles traveled
And your voices rose and blent
To form the city’s afternoon roar
Hindering an old silence.

Passers-by,
I remember lean ones among you,
Throats in the clutch of a hope,
Lips written over with strivings,
Mouths that kiss only for love,
Records of great wishes slept with,
      Held long
And prayed and toiled for:

      Yes,
Written on
Your mouths
And your throats
I read them
When you passed by.

This poem is in the public domain.

This poem is in the public domain.

Carl Sandburg

Carl Sandburg

Carl Sandburg was awarded three Pulitzer Prizes in his lifetime—the first in 1919 for his poetry collection Corn Huskers, the second in 1940 for his biography Abraham Lincoln: The War Years, and the third in 1951 for Complete Poems.

by this poet

poem

Cool your heels on the rail of an observation car.
Let the engineer open her up for ninety miles an hour.
Take in the prairie right and left, rolling land and new hay crops,
      swaths of new hay laid in the sun.
A gray village flecks by and the horses hitched in front of the
      post-

poem
Night from a railroad car window
Is a great, dark, soft thing
Broken across with slashes of light. 
poem
Mag
I wish to God I never saw you, Mag.
I wish you never quit your job and came along with me.
I wish we never bought a license and a white dress
For you to get married in the day we ran off to a minister
And told him we would love each other and take care of each other