I AM glad God saw Death
And gave Death a job taking care of all who are tired
of living:

When all the wheels in a clock are worn and slow and
the connections loose
And the clock goes on ticking and telling the wrong time
from hour to hour
And people around the house joke about what a bum
clock it is,
How glad the clock is when the big Junk Man drives
his wagon
Up to the house and puts his arms around the clock and
“You don’t belong here,
You gotta come
Along with me,”
How glad the clock is then, when it feels the arms of the
Junk Man close around it and carry it away.

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


  1. Kate says:

    Ann, how beautifully you express yourself, like Sandburg.
    This poem reminds me of “The Emperor of Ice Cream” by Wallace Stevens, and not just because both are about death, but because both equate death with the ordinary aspects of life. Death is final, but it is not the enemy, nor is the junk man, the emperor of ice cream, the run-down clock or the “sheet on which she embroidered fan tails once”, these are all just part of the whole. As are we.

  2. Ann says:

    At 80 I have great appreciation for Sandburg’s poem.
    I have seen many who were grateful to feel those loving arms of the junk man.

  3. Joe Chanley says:

    I was listening on WGN, Chicago last night and heard this. I do not know much about Carl Sandburg, but after hearing this, I soon will. Moving! To the person that commented afore that this was some what stupid, I say, they have never walked passed a person in a nursing home sitting in a wheel chair w/o any attention, near death already, and that the Junk Man would be welcome at any time there. It sure would be for me…..JC

  4. bob says:



  5. Tieu Mai says:

    I think this poem is somewhat stupid .

  6. laurel says:

    My mom recently died. She used to carry a copy of this poem around in her wallet. She shared it with me many years ago. She really loved it, so do I. Unfortunately she lived it too. It was her greatest fear to be a prisoner of her body and mind. I am sure she was relieved when the junk man came. I will miss her terribly! Thank you for showing me this poem mommy it means so much to me. Love, Laurel

  7. Kasia says:

    This poem symbolizes the reassurance at the end of life, because really it is not the end at all. Everyone goes through old age in life, which includes ridicule and the malfunctioning of the body in everyway. No matter what there is always hope in life, and once you have lived and served your part, you will be taken away to eternal happiness.

  8. jack says:

    its the best poem ever and the junkman is tryin to symbolize that everything is gonna be poli kala

  9. Peter Raines says:

    This poem is about older peole whose bodies are winding down. In the end, they are happy to die because their bodies make it painful to move

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