THE LAWYERS, Bob, know too much.
They are chums of the books of old John Marshall.
They know it all, what a dead hand wrote,
A stiff dead hand and its knuckles crumbling,
The bones of the fingers a thin white ash.
The lawyers know
a dead man’s thoughts too well.

In the heels of the higgling lawyers, Bob,
Too many slippery ifs and buts and howevers,
Too much hereinbefore provided whereas,
Too many doors to go in and out of.

When the lawyers are through
What is there left, Bob?
Can a mouse nibble at it
And find enough to fasten a tooth in?

Why is there always a secret singing
When a lawyer cashes in?
Why does a hearse horse snicker
Hauling a lawyer away?
The work of a bricklayer goes to the blue.
The knack of a mason outlasts a moon.
The hands of a plasterer hold a room together.
The land of a farmer wishes him back again.
Singers of songs and dreamers of plays
Build a house no wind blows over.
The lawyers—tell me why a hearse horse snickers hauling a lawyer’s bones.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Carl Sandburg's poem The Lawyers Know Too Much


  1. Mike P says:

    Yes, the horse was nickering as you stated. The poet needed to apply humanistic characteristics to the horse however; due to the fact that not a single human mourner could be found at the funeral. And in the end….Carl is much more famous than some whiny, back-water divorce or litigation lawyer….(snicker…..tee hee…)

  2. A Lawyer says:

    Obviously Mr. Sandburg came out second best in a publishing-contract negotiation to one of us. By the way “Carl,” that horse was nickering not snickering. In a similar fashion litigation losers (such as the late poet apparently) don’t whinny, they’re whiny.

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