PILE the bodies high at Austerlitz and Waterloo.
Shovel them under and let me work—
I am the grass; I cover all.

And pile them high at Gettysburg
And pile them high at Ypres and Verdun.
Shovel them under and let me work.
Two years, ten years, and passengers ask the conductor:
What place is this?
Where are we now?

I am the grass.
Let me work.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Carl Sandburg's poem Grass


  1. tzvi says:

    “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

  2. Kelsey says:

    The grass in this poem functions as a private symbol for the world’s forgetfulness of the horrors of war and destruction. It can also be viewed as a symbol of time.

  3. lorry says:

    The grass is time. This poem is about how time covers all, how the dead are forgotten over time.

  4. DANNY says:


  5. Shannon says:

    Ypres and Verdun are towns in Europe that were almost completely destroyed during World War One. But now they are rebuilt, the grass has grown over everything and there is nothing left to show that some big battle happened there and that people died except a few plaques and stuff. Gettysburg was a major turning point in the Civil War and was a very bloody battle. Austerlitz and Waterloo are both major battles in the Napoleonic Wars.

  6. Stephanie V says:

    This dramatic monologue relates the growing of grass and past battles. This poem shows society versus nature and how nature wins. The grass grows and covers all the work that man has done, and the grass conquers it. Years later, no one would have ever known anything had happened there. This is because the grass moves on; It keeps on growing and doesn’t pause for a second. The grass is ubiquitous; It appears everything and is ever-present. This poem also shows how the cycle of life is apathetic to man’s affairs. The bodies fertilize the ground and the grass grows. The cycle of nature never stops.

  7. jumperoo says:

    this is good

  8. Vanna says:

    i think this poem is about dying and getting over it. Devistating things happen but life still goes on.

  9. jessie says:

    i love this poem who the grass is the soldiers memories and the \y died on this grass and know covers them after they have died

  10. Nick says:

    This is a good poem, but I know for a fact that half the battles aren’t Napolianic. Gettysburg is civil war, and Ypres and Verdun are both WWI. Tohru needs to check his sources.

  11. Emilie N says:

    I think this poem is about our eager to forget “bad” things. “Grass” means memory. In the moment something unpleasant occurs, we start at once “working” on it, so that the bad memories will eventually go away.

  12. jack says:

    this poem was awesome

  13. Tohru says:

    I was told to compare my analysis with others’, and it turned out quite well. It seems to me that the poem is about, as many others said, how eventually, so-calledly ‘important’ things are erased and forgotten. I’m almost positive that the battles are connected because they all involved Napolean. (…research) In fact, there was another poem by Mr. Sandburg that I read immediately afterward that was all about Napolean. Coincedece? (sp?) …I think not…

  14. Derek Chen says:

    Ineresting! after I got back from my world literature class and done reading a Haiku by Basho, I found things in common in those two poems; war glorious, and the grass being the witness.

  15. Jon Handel says:

    I read this poem long ago and was impacted by the simple message of indifference I came away with. Several years have passed since both of my grandparents were killed together and their estate has remained untended until just recently when I bought the property. Looking around, I saw how nearly everything had been overgrown and choked with weeds and grass. Gone were the flower borders, the berry patches, and the vegetable gardens that they used to keep so meticulously. Immediately I thought of the line ‘I am grass; I cover all’. I was reminded that even our most sacred of places, whether they be battlegrounds or back yards, are still just pieces of earth and eventually fall victim to the insidious forces of Mother Nature.

  16. Joel V says:

    Simply put, an incredible poem.

  17. Abd says:

    If you notice Sandburg uses places of important events in history. Waterloo, Gettysburg these things were important, but for some reason I can’t remember why.

  18. Anonymous says:

    This poem is about dying and getting over it. It is a free verse poem. They are basically saying that things are devistating, but life can and must go on.

  19. Matt Stewart says:

    I really believe that this poem shows when given time all events are eventually forgotten. “What place is this?”, “Where are we now?”, it all shows that what was once a devastating event will be eventually forgotten just like how we considered Pearl Harbor to be a major event and with time most forgot about it unless they lived it.

  20. Michelle Turner Unwin says:

    “Grass” is a reminder that tragedies, even those of paramount importance, are eventually forgotten with time. “What is this place? Where are we now?”, in this poem, grass evidences the working of time and nature to erase and heal. Even watershed events are eventually erased from memory. Bodies are buried, names and lives forgotten, the details of history are forgotten: very gradually, erased from the surface of our awareness.
    I am grass let me work.

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