LAY me on an anvil, O God.
Beat me and hammer me into a crowbar.
Let me pry loose old walls.
Let me lift and loosen old foundations.

Lay me on an anvil, O God.
Beat me and hammer me into a steel spike.
Drive me into the girders that hold a skyscraper together.
Take red-hot rivets and fasten me into the central girders.
Let me be the great nail holding a skyscraper through blue nights into white stars.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Carl Sandburg's poem Prayers of Steel


  1. Joni Ellis says:

    I sang this poem as a choral song at All State Music Camp as a high school student in Iowa. It became a part of me,and in college I recall walking on campus on freezing winter nights, singing this song softly to myself, but really to God, to use me, refine me, and let me be part of something great. I’ve sung it many many times. I thank God that I have gotten to do some pretty cool things in service to Him and He’s still with me in a new stage of my life, 30 years later. I now am planning to do a painting to illustrate this poem.–I’m excited!

  2. Sophia Carpentor says:

    Sandburg, expresses a call to be refined by God, like metal being formed into something useful… He also cries to be made something useful… Of course knowing a little about his biography gives more insight into what he is saying about being a crowbar… but on a basic level- where all people can relate, it is just as it is- a call to be shaped by God… Just as it is biblically described as refining… it is an awesome picture of God’s work in our lives, if we surrender to Him, call out to Him… though I would not ask to be great, God works in our hearts awesome things…

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