100-Day Project 68-71
If we were such and so, the same as these,
maybe we too would be slingers and sliders,
tumbling half over in the water mirrors,
tumbling half over at the horse heads of the sun,
tumbling our purple numbers.
Twirl on, you and your satin blue.
Be water birds, be air birds.
Be these purple tumblers you are.
–Carl Sandburg, “Purple Martins”
I don’t know if Carl Sandburg is still taught in school (is poetry even taught at all anymore?), but he was certainly a well-known literary figure when I was growing up. More than a poet, he collected folktales and ballads, worked as a journalist in Chicago, wrote children’s stories, and won a Pulitzer for his biography of Abraham Lincoln as well as for his poetry. His poems use the experience and rhythms of everyday life and speech to reflect the industrial and urban landscape, but as one website I looked at commented, even urban lives were lived much closer to the natural world in the early 2oth century, and so: purple martins.
Sandburg toured the country singing songs from his “American Songbag” and performing his verse to much acclaim. His friend screenwriter Ben Hecht said of his renditions: “He spoke like a man slowly revealing something.”
You can read the entire poem here: http://10000birds.com/purple-martins-by-carl-sandburg.htm
and more about Carl Sandburg here: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/carl-sandburg
You can see all the 100-day project posts here: https://methodtwomadness.wordpress.com/category/100-day-project/