THE dago shovelman sits by the railroad track
Eating a noon meal of bread and bologna.
A train whirls by, and men and women at tables
Alive with red roses and yellow jonquils,
Eat steaks running with brown gravy,
Strawberries and cream, eclaires and coffee.
The dago shovelman finishes the dry bread and bologna,
Washes it down with a dipper from the water-boy,
And goes back to the second half of a ten-hour day’s work
Keeping the road-bed so the roses and jonquils
Shake hardly at all in the cut glass vases
Standing slender on the tables in the dining cars.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Carl Sandburg's poem Child of the Romans


  1. melisa says:

    your poem is very intresting, sad and it has a great moral .

  2. Tiffany says:

    This is literally the first poem that has ever made me tear up. It’s amazing, really, because I am very caloussed towards free- verse poetry. The question then may arise: why are you reading Sandburg, the prince of free- verse. I’m doing an english project and getting way too into it. I’ve always loved poetry but this is honestly one of the most touching poems I have yet to read.

  3. Dennis J. Barton says:

    Sandberg’s “Child of the Romans” is an obvious poke at the American Empire at the time of the writing, and might be more relevant than ever NOW, given the current aggressive military policies of the party in power. A child of the Romans, former rulers of the “known world” working as common labor as the New Imperialists ride in luxury and comfort; the more things change the more they remain the same. Reminds me of seeing LES MISERABLE on Broadway some years back, seeing Jean Valjean marching in place on a large wooden wheel: the more things change, the more they remain the same. Every Empire rises, peaks, then declines. The “child of the Romans” becomes a serf within the American system. Will we, as a species, ever apply our thinking to a large span, ever consider our own long-term group behaviors and decide upon a better course? We talk such a good game re “kinder and gentler” but we are neither.

    One day it may be “Child of the USA” tending railroad tracks in the E.U. (not Estados Unidos)? Nothing is permanent, but change is (Rush (rock band, not the fat man, “Tom Sawyer”).

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