Arithmetic Poem by Carl Sandburg

Arithmetic

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Arithmetic is where numbers fly like pigeons in and out of your
    head.
Arithmetic tell you how many you lose or win if you know how
    many you had before you lost or won.
Arithmetic is seven eleven all good children go to heaven -- or five
    six bundle of sticks.
Arithmetic is numbers you squeeze from your head to your hand
    to your pencil to your paper till you get the answer.
Arithmetic is where the answer is right and everything is nice and
    you can look out of the window and see the blue sky -- or the
    answer is wrong and you have to start all over and try again
    and see how it comes out this time.
If you take a number and double it and double it again and then
    double it a few more times, the number gets bigger and bigger
    and goes higher and higher and only arithmetic can tell you
    what the number is when you decide to quit doubling.
Arithmetic is where you have to multiply -- and you carry the
    multiplication table in your head and hope you won't lose it.
If you have two animal crackers, one good and one bad, and you
    eat one and a striped zebra with streaks all over him eats the
    other, how many animal crackers will you have if somebody
    offers you five six seven and you say No no no and you say
    Nay nay nay and you say Nix nix nix?
If you ask your mother for one fried egg for breakfast and she
    gives you two fried eggs and you eat both of them, who is
    better in arithmetic, you or your mother?

COMMENTS OF THE POEM
Michelle Jones 28 April 2006

there is alot you can get out of this poem... appreciation for math and just how it works in our daily lives, but not only that, at the end the poet (Carl Sandburg) added a little joke in the poem for good measure :) ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

45 22 Reply
Kinyua Karanja 30 September 2015

Awesome poem, I always hated anything to do with arithmetic but i have seen them in different light.

16 5 Reply
Paul Amrod 05 December 2015

Hi Marj, This is especially an answer to the wish of Marj. This poem is filled with American anachronisms. Various events which are recognized as happenings or feelings someone has or experiences. I am not a literary buff however I feel the member Daniel Brick would be better to ask. He is highly versed and has a wonderful manner of expressing his explanations and is simply better qualified than myself. Greetings, Paul

10 9 Reply
Marj Ken 04 December 2015

Someone please help me with the line by line explanation of this poem

9 9 Reply
Indira Renganathan 14 November 2016

Funny and interesting calculation of arithmetic....good poem indeed- 10

11 6 Reply
unknown 03 April 2022

cool story

0 0 Reply
Sylvia Frances Chan 01 August 2021

An excellent poem to learn children how to count and add. A playfull poem to learn unknowingly especialy for kids who must still learn to count.5 Stars!

0 0 Reply
Bharati Nayak 01 August 2021

Arithmetic with fun and puzzle---a nice way to raise curiosity among children.A great poem.

0 0 Reply
Gage Stewart 08 March 2020

This poem is awesome, using it for my 5th grade speech meet. Way to go Sandburg, Carl

2 0 Reply
Mhshshs 18 February 2020

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0 2 Reply
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