PASSING through huddled and ugly walls
By doorways where women
Looked from their hunger-deep eyes,
Haunted with shadows of hunger-hands,
Out from the huddled and ugly walls,
I came sudden, at the city’s edge,
On a blue burst of lake,
Long lake waves breaking under the sun
On a spray-flung curve of shore;
And a fluttering storm of gulls,
Masses of great gray wings
And flying white bellies
Veering and wheeling free in the open

Analysis, meaning and summary of Carl Sandburg's poem The Harbor


  1. Suzi says:

    I agree with Jeff. If you transcribe the poem phonetically, you will see that Sandburg uses the same types of sounds, not just short “u” but sounds that are dark, dreary, cold, and do not have a vowel in the final syllable. He is setting a mood and wants the listener to feel the mood.

  2. Steve Adrianes says:

    g’day mates. what a wonderful poem. it really does bring out his work.

  3. Stephanie says:

    The contrast of the city to the shore is exquisite. One underlying meaning one may extricate from the poem is that of one who has has his share of lovers, all of which left him unsatisfied. Yet the shore, and its image of gleaming beauty and youth gives the idea of a new love, one with meaning. The blue lake appears to serve as a symbol for hope and rebirth in the sexual awareness of the poet.

  4. natalie deleon says:

    a very beautiful poem. at first i thought it was about people being enslaved or just imprisoned and were hungry, but i asked my english teacher about it and then thought about it again. it’s just a moment in his life. he’s seeing the harbor and the water and takes us through the images as he sees them. he contrasts the bleak, dark city with the bright and lively harbor. there’s no real message of this poem, it’s just images in chicago as he sees them.

  5. vivian elgort says:

    such a wonderful poem. one can feel the waves and the fluttering wings of birds. It is a gift to be so descriptive with words.

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