CARL SANDBURG (1878-1967)

LANGUAGES



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1     THERE are no handles upon a language
2     Whereby men take hold of it
3     And mark it with signs for its remembrance.
4     It is a river, this language,
5     Once in a thousand years
6     Breaking a new course
7     Changing its way to the ocean.
8     It is mountain effluvia
9     Moving to valleys
10   And from nation to nation
11   Crossing borders and mixing.
12   Languages die like rivers.
13   Words wrapped round your tongue today
14   And broken to shape of thought
15   Between your teeth and lips speaking
16   Now and today
17   Shall be faded hieroglyphics
18   Ten thousand years from now.
19   Sing--and singing--remember
20   Your song dies and changes
21   And is not here to-morrow
22   Any more than the wind
23   Blowing ten thousand years ago.


NOTES

Composition Date:
Unknown.
Form:
unrhyming.

8.
effluvia: streams flowing down from rainfall or snowmelt.