Manitoba Childe Roland
Carl Sandburg, Cornhuskers (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1918), pp. 38-39. PS 3537 A618C6 1918 Robarts Library.
1LAST night a January wind was ripping at the shingles
2 over our house and whistling a wolf song under the
5 the Browning poem, Childe Roland to the Dark
6 Tower Came.
7And her eyes had the haze of autumn hills and it was
8 beautiful to her and she could not understand.
9A man is crossing a big prairie, says the poem, and
10 nothing happens--and he goes on and on--and it's
11 all lonesome and empty and nobody home.
12And he goes on and on--and nothing happens--and he
13 comes on a horse's skull, dry bones of a dead horse--
14 and you know more than ever it's all lonesome and
15 empty and nobody home.
16And the man raises a horn to his lips and blows--he
17 fixes a proud neck and forehead toward the empty
18 sky and the empty land--and blows one last wonder-
21 off its results willy-nilly and inevitable as the snick
22 of a mouse-trap or the trajectory of a 42-centimetre
25 of Manitoba and Minnesota--in the sled derby run
26 from Winnipeg to Minneapolis.
27He is beaten in the race the first day out of Winnipeg--
28 the lead dog is eaten by four team mates--and the
29 man goes on and on--running while the other racers
30 ride, running while the other racers sleep--
31Lost in a blizzard twenty-four hours, repeating a circle
32 of travel hour after hour--fighting the dogs who
33 dig holes in the snow and whimper for sleep--
34 pushing on--running and walking five hundred
35 miles to the end of the race--almost a winner--one
36 toe frozen, feet blistered and frost-bitten.
37And I know why a thousand young men of the North-
38 west meet him in the finishing miles and yell cheers
39 --I know why judges of the race call him a winner
40 and give him a special prize even though he is a
42I know he kept under his shirt and around his thudding
43 heart amid the blizzards of five hundred miles that
44 one last wonder-cry of Childe Roland--and I told
45 the six year old girl about it.
46And while the January wind was ripping at the shingles
47 and whistling a wolf song under the eaves, her eyes
48 had the haze of autumn hills and it was beautiful
49 to her and she could not understand.
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