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Poetry Analysis Notes


by Carl Sandburg
interpreted by Asya Gyurjyan

The voice of the last cricket
Across the first frost
Is one kind of good-by.
It is so thin a splinter of singing.

Poet: Carl Sandburg was born on January 6, 1878 in Galesburg, Illinois, and was educated at a public school until he was thirteen. He then worked in odd jobs in Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, and Colorado. Encouraged by Professor Philip Green Wright, Sandburg started to write poetry. His first book was called In Reckless Ecstasy, and was printed privately in 1940. In 1913 Sandburg moved with his family to a suburb of Chicago, where he worked as an editor of a business magazine and published articles in the International Socialist Review. Sandburg also received a Levinson Prize awarded by Poetry in 1914, which established Sandburg as an important new voice in literature. Sandburg was still unknown to the literary world.
Sandburg later published another volume of poems after his book Chicago Poems was published, called Cornhuskers, in 1918, and wrote a searching analysis of the 1919 Chicago race riots. More poetry followed, along with Rootabaga Stories at 1922, a book of children's tales. Sandburg's Complete Poems won him a second Pulitzer Prize in 1951. Being an American poet, historian, novelist and folklorist, Sandburg gave voice to least powerful people in his works. Playing a central figure in the ‘Chicago Renaissance’, Sandburg played a significant role in the development of poetry taking place during the first two decades of the 20th century. On July 22, 1967, Sandburg died at his North Carolina home.

Vocabulary: [NONE] - Being a short poem the vocabulary is simple to understand

Type of poem:

Speaker: The author, Carl Sandburg

General audience

Tone: Relaxed, appreciative, and informative tone of voice

In his poem, Splinter, Carl Sandburg refers to the last song of the cricket before winter as a "thin splinter of singing" (line 4). The author rights of one kind of good bye as being the last song of the cricket before winter comes, like a last minuet goodbye to the past so that the next season can come. The cricket’s voice symbolizes a new beginning. The meaning of the poem is meant to show that life goes on and that people must move on with it leaving but memories as thin as splinters. The voice of the last cricket points a new beginning with a silent end.

Structure of poem: Free Verse consisting of lines that do not have a regular meter and do not contain rhyme.

Examples of poetic techniques used in the poem:

"cricket" Symbol
"It is so thin a splinter of singing" End-Stopping Line
"splinter of singing"

Connection between the poem and the poet's life and/or times: Many of Sandburgs poems often reflected on how he viewed and expressed the world around him. Most of his poetry expressed the hearty, earthy nature of America, finding both soft and harsh beauty amongst her people. Likely, Sandburg wrote this poem based upon the lives of people around him, metaphorically expressing that people must move to a new beginning and leave the past behind. Also the poem was likely wrote in the midst of a season turning in America, and Sandburgs observation of it all. Because Carl Sandburg was also a biographer of Abraham Lincoln, some people also think that the poem was meant to be a metaphor describing Abraham Lincoln’s complexity and contrasts of his essential character:

Most memorable quote from the poem:
"It is so thin a splinter of singing"

© Smelli Notes 2001