Learn More

Carl Sandburg

(6 January 1878 – 22 July 1967 / Illinois)

Manitoba Childe Roland


LAST night a January wind was ripping at the shingles
over our house and whistling a wolf song under the
eaves.
I sat in a leather rocker and read to a six-year-old girl
the Browning poem, Childe Roland to the Dark
Tower Came.
And her eyes had the haze of autumn hills and it was
beautiful to her and she could not understand.
A man is crossing a big prairie, says the poem, and
nothing happens--and he goes on and on--and it's
all lonesome and empty and nobody home.
And he goes on and on--and nothing happens--and he
comes on a horse's skull, dry bones of a dead horse--
and you know more than ever it's all lonesome and
empty and nobody home.
And the man raises a horn to his lips and blows--he
fixes a proud neck and forehead toward the empty
sky and the empty land--and blows one last wonder-
cry.
And as the shuttling automatic memory of man clicks
off its results willy-nilly and inevitable as the snick
of a mouse-trap or the trajectory of a 42-centimetre
projectile,
I flash to the form of a man to his hips in snow drifts
of Manitoba and Minnesota--in the sled derby run
from Winnipeg to Minneapolis.
He is beaten in the race the first day out of Winnipeg--
the lead dog is eaten by four team mates--and the
man goes on and on--running while the other racers
ride, running while the other racers sleep--
Lost in a blizzard twenty-four hours, repeating a circle
of travel hour after hour--fighting the dogs who
dig holes in the snow and whimper for sleep--
pushing on--running and walking five hundred
miles to the end of the race--almost a winner--one
toe frozen, feet blistered and frost-bitten.

And I know why a thousand young men of the North-
west meet him in the finishing miles and yell cheers
--I know why judges of the race call him a winner
and give him a special prize even though he is a
loser.
I know he kept under his shirt and around his thudding
heart amid the blizzards of five hundred miles that
one last wonder-cry of Childe Roland--and I told
the six year old girl about it.
And while the January wind was ripping at the shingles
and whistling a wolf song under the eaves, her eyes
had the haze of autumn hills and it was beautiful
to her and she could not understand.

Submitted: Thursday, January 01, 2004

Do you like this poem?
0 person liked.
0 person did not like.

Read poems about / on: january, running, horse, poem, autumn, girl, snow, travel, beautiful, song, dog, sleep, home, wind, memory, house, lost, dark, sky, night

Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

What do you think this poem is about?

Comments about this poem (Manitoba Childe Roland by Carl Sandburg )

Enter the verification code :

  • Rookie Warren Atherton (9/6/2006 8:35:00 AM)

    What a truly wonderful analogy on the 'Childe Rolande.....' poem by Browning. I was very moved by the accounted journey of this lone sledsman and his dogs. I also really admired the third element to your poem, that of the little girl - the listener, filled with wonderment, as I was when I first read the Browning poem. (Report) Reply

Read all 1 comments »

Trending Poets

Trending Poems

  1. The Solitary Reaper, William Wordsworth
  2. The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
  3. Invictus, William Ernest Henley
  4. Daffodils, William Wordsworth
  5. Fire and Ice, Robert Frost
  6. Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, Dylan Thomas
  7. I Do Not Love You Except Because I Love .., Pablo Neruda
  8. Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, Robert Frost
  9. A Late Walk, Robert Frost
  10. Nothing Gold Can Stay, Robert Frost

Poem of the Day

poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti

A little while a little love
The hour yet bears for thee and me
Who have not drawn the veil to see
If still our heaven be lit above.
Thou merely, at the day's last sigh,
...... Read complete »

   

New Poems

  1. For Her, M.J. Lemon
  2. I Broke My Leg, M.J. Lemon
  3. Get Together in NCCF Benue, Dare Onadele
  4. A Man Dying, M.J. Lemon
  5. Force Of Nature, R B Seals
  6. People I See Sometimes, Casey Renee Kiser
  7. The Song of My Heart, Amber Carr
  8. Tales Of A Wife: My Devil, Onyekachukwu Vincent Onyeche
  9. ARRIVAL DAY, michael walkerjohn
  10. Yeh Meri Betian, Akhtar Jawad
[Hata Bildir]