Carl Sandburg

(6 January 1878 – 22 July 1967 / Illinois)

Arithmetic - Poem by Carl Sandburg

Arithmetic is where numbers fly like pigeons in and out of your
Arithmet ic 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 about Arithmetic by Carl Sandburg

  • (12/31/2018 2:50:00 PM)

    I’m in 5th grade and I picked this poem to memorize. It’s a little hard to memorize, but it’s so witty and clever. (Report)Reply

    2 person liked.
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  • (3/28/2018 9:29:00 PM)

    lllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll Already ReportedReply

    2 person liked.
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  • (3/28/2018 9:28:00 PM)

    llllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll Already ReportedReply

    2 person liked.
    6 person did not like.
  • (3/14/2018 12:06:00 PM)

    I'm so happy I found this poem. My grandmother had typed a copy for me when I was in grade school, but I lost it. I've spend years and years racking my brain trying to remember just a little bit of the poem to search for it and now I've finally found it! (Report)Reply

    (2/18/2019 7:06:00 AM)

    That's so sweet and awesome! Good 4 U!

    7 person liked.
    2 person did not like.
  • Rajnish Manga (11/14/2016 12:15:00 PM)

    Lovely poem. Enjoyed it thoroughly, though I have always been scared of the subject in school. Thanks for sharing. (Report)Reply

    12 person liked.
    4 person did not like.
  • (11/14/2016 10:59:00 AM)

    A beautifully envisioned humorous elaboration of the sweep of an otherwise boring yet most essential subject. Thanks for sharing. (Report)Reply

    11 person liked.
    4 person did not like.
  • (11/14/2016 6:28:00 AM)

    A humorous poem on arithmetics, really enjoyable.10 (Report)Reply

    12 person liked.
    2 person did not like.
  • Edward Kofi Louis (11/14/2016 4:35:00 AM)

    Out of your head! ! With the muse of calculation. Thanks for sharing this poem with us. (Report)Reply

    9 person liked.
    4 person did not like.
  • Indira Renganathan (11/14/2016 1:18:00 AM)

    Funny and interesting calculation of arithmetic....good poem indeed- 10 (Report)Reply

    11 person liked.
    5 person did not like.
  • Bernard F. Asuncion (11/14/2016 1:15:00 AM)

    Very nice poem! ! ! ! ! .......
    Thanks for sharing.........................

    10 person liked.
    5 person did not like.
  • Paul Amrod (12/5/2015 4:17:00 AM)

    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 (Report)Reply

    10 person liked.
    7 person did not like.
  • (12/4/2015 9:22:00 PM)

    Someone please help me with the line by line explanation of this poem (Report)Reply

    9 person liked.
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  • Kinyua Karanja (9/30/2015 3:22:00 AM)

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

    15 person liked.
    4 person did not like.
  • (4/28/2006 7:40:00 PM)

    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 :) ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! (Report)Reply

    45 person liked.
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Read all 15 comments »

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Read poems about / on: animal, mother, children, lost, heaven, hope, sky, child

Poem Submitted: Friday, January 3, 2003

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