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Carl Sandburg - The Right to Grief

To Certain Poets About to Die

TAKE your fill of intimate remorse, perfumed sorrow,
Over the dead child of a millionaire,
And the pity of Death refusing any check on the bank
Which the millionaire might order his secretary to
scratch off
And get cashed.

Very well,
You for your grief and I for mine.
Let me have a sorrow my own if I want to.

I shall cry over the dead child of a stockyards hunky.
His job is sweeping blood off the floor.
He gets a dollar seventy cents a day when he works
And it's many tubs of blood he shoves out with a broom
day by day.

Now his three year old daughter
Is in a white coffin that cost him a week's wages.
Every Saturday night he will pay the undertaker fifty
cents till the debt is wiped out.

The hunky and his wife and the kids
Cry over the pinched face almost at peace in the white box.

They remember it was scrawny and ran up high doctor bills.
They are glad it is gone for the rest of the family now
will have more to eat and wear.

Yet before the majesty of Death they cry around the coffin
And wipe their eyes with red bandanas and sob when
the priest says, "God have mercy on us all."

I have a right to feel my throat choke about this.
You take your grief and I mine--see?
To-morrow there is no funeral and the hunky goes back
to his job sweeping blood off the floor at a dollar
seventy cents a day.
All he does all day long is keep on shoving hog blood
ahead of him with a broom.

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Added: Feb 4 2004 | Viewed: 221 times | Comments and analysis of The Right to Grief by Carl Sandburg Comments (1)

The Right to Grief - Comments and Information

Poet: Carl Sandburg
Poem: 22. The Right to Grief
Volume: Chicago Poems
- Chicago Poems
Year: Published/Written in 1912

Comment 1 of 1, added on January 18th, 2007 at 3:37 PM.

this poem is sad. it's sad how the family is glad that their daughter is gone but at the same time their happiness is justifiable. they had very little money and with her having to go to the doctor all the time it must have used up most of the little bit of money that they had. they were also sad and that was because they lost their child. though the poem is sad it is very nice.

Dani Elblein from United States

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