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About this Poem 

“Still Life” was published in Sandburg’s book Cornhuskers (H. Holt and Company, 1918).

Still Life

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-office never blink an eye.
A barnyard and fifteen Holstein cows, dabs of white on a black
      wall map, never blink an eye.
A signalman in a tower, the outpost of Kansas City, keeps his
      place at a window with the serenity of a bronze statue on a
      dark night when lovers pass whispering.

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

Bend low again, night of summer stars.
So near you are, sky of summer stars, 
So near, a long-arm man can pick off stars, 
Pick off what he wants in the sky bowl, 
So near you are, summer stars, 
So near, strumming, strumming, 
                So lazy and hum-strumming.

This morning I looked at the map of the day
And said to myself, “This is the way! This is the way I will go;
Thus shall I range on the roads of achievement,
The way is so clear—it shall all be a joy on the lines marked out.”
And then as I went came a place that was


I wanted a man's face looking into the jaws and throat
     of life
With something proud on his face, so proud no smash
     of the jaws,
No gulp of the throat leaves the face in the end
With anything else than the old proud look:
          Even to the finish, dumped in the dust,