Sandburg Center for Sky Awareness
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Carl Sandburg Sky Poetry


The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.


The stars are too many to count.
The stars make sixes and sevens.
The stars tell nothing--and everything.
The stars look scattered.
Stars are so far away they never speak when spoken to.


The sunset swept
To the valley's west, you remember.

The frost was on.
A star burnt blue.
We were warm, you remember,
And counted the rings on a moon.

The sunset swept
To the valley's west
And was gone on a big dark door of stars.


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.


The knees
of this proud woman
are bone.

The elbows
of this proud woman
are bone.

The summer-white stars
and the winter-white stars
never stop circling
around this proud woman.

The bones
of this proud woman
answer the vibrations
of the stars.

In summer
the stars speak deep thoughts
In the winter
the stars repeat summer speeches.

The knees
of this proud woman
know these thoughts
and know these speeches
of the summer and winter stars.


The rain pools in the old lumber yard
change as the sky changes.

No sooner do lightfoot sunset maroons
cross the west than they cross the
rain pools too.

So now every blue has a brother
and every singing silver a sister.


The dome of the capitol looks to the Potomac river.
Out of haze over the sunset,
Out of a smoke rose gold:
One star shines over the sunset.
Night takes the dome and the river, the sun and the smoke rose gold,
The haze changes from sunset to star.
The pour of a thin silver struggles against the dark.
A star might call: It's a long way across.


Under the harvest moon,
When the soft silver
Drips shimmering
Over the garden nights,
Death, the gray mocker,
Comes and whispers to you
As a beautiful friend
Who remembers.

Under the summer roses
When the flagrant crimson
Lurks in the dusk
Of the wild red leaves,
Love, with little hands,
Comes and touches you
With a thousand memories,
And asks you
Beautiful, unanswerable questions


Cabbages catch at the moon.
It is late summer, no rain, the pack of the soil cracks open, it is hard summer.
In the night the cabbages catch at the moon, the leaves drip silver, the rows of cabbages are series of little silver waterfalls in the moon.


The child's wonder
At the old moon
Comes back nightly.
She points her finger
To the far silent yellow thing
Shining through the branches

Filtering on the leaves a golden sand,
Crying with her little tongue, "See the moon!"
And in her bed fading to sleep
With babblings of the moon on her little mouth.


Leaves of poplars pick Japanese prints against the west.
Moon sand on the canal doubles the changing pictures.
The moon's good-by ends pictures.
The west is empty. All else is empty. No moon-talk at all now.
Only dark listening to dark.

Sandburg, Carl. 1918. Cornhuskers.


The double moon, one on the high backdrop of the West, one on the curve of the river face,
The sky moon of fire and the river moon of water, I am taking these home in a basket, hung on an elbow, such a teeny weeny elbow, in my head.
I saw them last night, a cradle moon, two horns of a moon, such an early hopeful moon, such a child's moon for all young hearts to make a picture of.
The river--I remember this like a picture--the river was the upper twist of a written question mark.
I know it takes many many years to write a river, a twist of water asking a question.
And white stars moved when the moon moved, and one red star kept burning, and the Big Dipper was almost overhead.


"Love is a door we shall open together."
So they told each other under the moon
One evening when the smell of leaf mould
And the beginnings of roses and potatoes
Came on a wind.

Late in the hours of the evening
They looked long at the moon and called it
A silver button, a copper coin, a bronze wafer,
A plaque of gold, a vanished diadem,
A brass hat dripping from deep waters.

"People like us,
us two,
We own the moon."


The moon is a bucket of suds
yellow and smooth suds.
The horses of the moon dip their heads
into this bucket and drink.
The cats of the moon, the dogs, the rats,
they too go to this bucket for drink.
Thus an apparition told it.
To him the moon meant drink and drinkers.

The moon is a disc of hidden books.
Reach an arm into it
and feel around with your hands
and you bring out books already written
and many books yet to be written
for the moon holds past, present, future.
Thus an apparition related the matter.
To him the disc meant print and printers.


Milk-white moon, put the cows to sleep
Since five o'clock in the morning,
Since they stood up out of the grass,
Where they have slept on their knees and hocks,
They have eaten grass and given their milk,
And kept their heads and teeth at the earth's face.
Now they are looking at you, milk-white moon.
Carelessly as they look at the level landscapes,
Carelessly as they look at a pail of new white milk,
They are looking at you, wondering not at all, at all.
If the moon is the skim face top of a pail of milk
Wondering not at all, carelessly looking.
Put the cows to sleep, milk-white moon,
Put the cows to sleep.


White Moon comes in on a baby face.
The shafts across her bed are flimmering.

Out on the land White Moon shines,
Shines and glimmers against gnarled shadows,
All silver to slow twisted shadows
Falling across the long road that runs from the house.

Keep a little of your beauty
And some of your flimmering silver
For her by the window tonight
Where you come in, White Moon.

Inspired by the sky poetry of Carl Sandburg and a visit to the Sandburg Planetarium, Carl Sandburg Middle School Grade Level Seven English students wrote and illustrated their own sky poems.