THE BUFFALOES are gone.
And those who saw the buffaloes are gone.
Those who saw the buffaloes by thousands and how they pawed the prairie sod into dust with their hoofs, their great heads down pawing on in a great pageant of dusk,
Those who saw the buffaloes are gone.
And the buffaloes are gone. 5
I think it takes a biased observer to say we are a cancer. An unbiased extra-terrestrial would be more struck by the fact that Sandburg’s poem is written for us, for humans, and is obviously an act of hope in that he expects the poem’s aesthetic beauty to open our eyes to something we have been oblivious to or careless about. Why would a great poet write a poem for us if he thought from the very start that he was wasting his time. We don’t write poems for dead people, do we? Let’s stop the self loathing. It’s becoming cliche, and it usually proceeds from a misuse of our reason. You have an agenda. Sandburg does not.
This short poem, almost as short as “Haiku”, reveals Sandburg’s knowledge of the subject, his depth of feeling, and (being written in 1922) is obviously a “lament”, for the great loss of the American Bison.
Actually, this poem is not far from Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring”, is it??
An un-biased, outside observer (say, an extra-terrestrial) would be well-founded in concluding that the human race is a “cancer” upon this planet…
-Mark Tulk Bright Moon
18 OCT 05