Original Text: 
Carl Sandburg, Chicago Poems (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1916), p. 175. PS 3537 A618C5 1916 Robarts Library.
1THERE are no handles upon a language
2Whereby men take hold of it
3And mark it with signs for its remembrance.
4It is a river, this language,
5Once in a thousand years
6Breaking a new course
7Changing its way to the ocean.
9Moving to valleys
10And from nation to nation
11Crossing borders and mixing.
12Languages die like rivers.
13Words wrapped round your tongue today
14And broken to shape of thought
15Between your teeth and lips speaking
16Now and today
17Shall be faded hieroglyphics
18Ten thousand years from now.
19Sing--and singing--remember
20Your song dies and changes
21And is not here to-morrow
22Any more than the wind
23Blowing ten thousand years ago.


8] effluvia: streams flowing down from rainfall or snowmelt. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 1998.