Verse > Carl Sandburg > Cornhuskers
Carl Sandburg (1878–1967).  Cornhuskers.  1918.
43. Interior
IN the cool of the night time
The clocks pick off the points
And the mainsprings loosen.
They will need winding.
One of these days…        5
          they will need winding.
Rabelais in red boards,
Walt Whitman in green,
Hugo in ten-cent paper covers,
Here they stand on shelves        10
In the cool of the night time
And there is nothing…
To be said against them…
Or for them…
In the cool of the night time        15
And the clocks.
A man in pigeon-gray pyjamas.
The open window begins at his feet
And goes taller than his head.
Eight feet high is the pattern.        20
Moon and mist make an oblong layout.
Silver at the man’s bare feet.
He swings one foot in a moon silver.
And it costs nothing.
One more day of bread and work.        25
One more day … so much rags…
The man barefoot in moon silver
Mutters “You” and “You”
To things hidden
In the cool of the night time,        30
In Rabelais, Whitman, Hugo,
In an oblong of moon mist.
Out from the window … prairielands.
Moon mist whitens a golf ground.
Whiter yet is a limestone quarry.        35
The crickets keep on chirring.
Switch engines of the Great Western
Sidetrack box cars, make up trains
For Weehawken, Oskaloosa, Saskatchewan;
The cattle, the coal, the corn, must go        40
In the night … on the prairielands.
Chuff-chuff go the pulses.
They beat in the cool of the night time.
Chuff-chuff and chuff-chuff…
These heartbeats travel the night a mile        45
And touch the moon silver at the window
And the bones of the man.
It costs nothing.
Rabelais in red boards,
Whitman in green,        50
Hugo in ten-cent paper covers,
Here they stand on shelves
In the cool of the night time
And the clocks.


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