Treasure Island

Carl Sandburg

(6 January 1878 – 22 July 1967 / Illinois)

Nigger


I am the nigger.
Singer of songs,
Dancer…
Softer than fluff of cotton…
Harder than dark earth
Roads beaten in the sun
By the bare feet of slaves…
Foam of teeth … breaking crash of laughter…
Red love of the blood of woman,
White love of the tumbling pickaninnies…
Lazy love of the banjo thrum…
Sweated and driven for the harvest-wage,
Loud laugher with hands like hams,
Fists toughened on the handles,
Smiling the slumber dreams of old jungles,
Crazy as the sun and dew and dripping, heaving life of the jungle,
Brooding and muttering with memories of shackles:
I am the nigger.
Look at me.
I am the nigger.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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

Read poems about / on: crazy, laughter, woman, sun, red, dark, love, life, memory, song, women, smile, dream

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 (Nigger by Carl Sandburg )

Enter the verification code :

  • Rose Gillum (9/24/2012 2:50:00 PM)

    I told this poem at my local KKK meeting, afterwards we had a good old fashioned fag drag. Had a wonderful time, this is a lovely poem! [3 (Report) Reply

  • Tim O'brosnahan (5/28/2009 9:17:00 AM)

    During the Chicago race riots of 1919, Carl Sandburg became a voice for the black community and wrote an article that was on the front cover of the Chicago paper he wrote for. This article inflamed many whites because he wrote more of the truth than other biased writers. His love of people of diverse races and ethnic backgrounds is well documented in many of his poems.

    In Nigger, he writes of ther inner strength and the proudness of blacks in America. Quite possibly his enormous studies and writings of Abraham Lincoln gave him more insight than the average man, both black and white, but his gentleness in writing this poem ends with a sharpness of memory for a time that was one of the darkest for our country. (Report) Reply

  • Jane Moon (5/15/2009 12:50:00 PM)

    Sandburg's compassion and respect for the common man shows here in the many dimensions of hard work, love, music, joy, enjoyment of family and life, memories from past life in freedom before slavery (Africa) and hardships of slavery, up to the current day. The 'nigger' here is a word of respect and friendship. He is a man to be admired and accepted just like anyone else. (Report) Reply

  • Lewis Colyar (5/10/2007 1:18:00 AM)

    Carl Sandburg had a great deal of compassion for the African American people.
    He was one Langston Hughes favorite poets. In this poem he is speaking of
    the African-American hardship that he is seeing. He is not using the N word in the manner to demean. Rather he is writing how we are/ were disenfranchied. Walt Whitman also wrote with the same passion.

    Langston hughes poetry Society of Pittsburgh (Report) Reply

  • Zandra Faulks (6/25/2006 9:46:00 AM)

    I enjoy Sandberg's poetry, but I never know how to take this one. I do not know enough about his life or what his politics or social perspective was to understand if his use of 'nigger' and pickaninnies' was for effect or a betrayal of personal racism. Anybody? (Report) Reply

Read all 6 comments »

Top Poems

  1. Phenomenal Woman
    Maya Angelou
  2. The Road Not Taken
    Robert Frost
  3. If You Forget Me
    Pablo Neruda
  4. Still I Rise
    Maya Angelou
  5. Dreams
    Langston Hughes
  6. Annabel Lee
    Edgar Allan Poe
  7. If
    Rudyard Kipling
  8. Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
    Robert Frost
  9. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings
    Maya Angelou
  10. Invictus
    William Ernest Henley

New Poems

  1. A Pair Of Messy Birds (Fun Poem 158), David Harris
  2. Beyond The Desert, Tracee Olga
  3. Tumbleweed, Robert Kane
  4. The Motorcyclists, James Tate
  5. The Definition of Gardening, James Tate
  6. Escape, Sadiqullah Khan
  7. Dial the Number Zero, Pintu Mahakul
  8. The Cowboy, James Tate
  9. Unrequited, Robert Kane
  10. Best of Times, Sadiqullah Khan

Poem of the Day

poet Robert Frost

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
...... Read complete »

 

Modern Poem

poet Ernest G Moll

 

Member Poem

[Hata Bildir]