Theme in Yellow
by Carl Sandburg
I, Me, My
All that first-person wordplay commands our attention in "Theme in Yellow." There's no mistaking that Sandburg wants us to remember that his speaker is also the star of the show in autumn. And since the speaker is a pumpkin, we tend to pay attention even more to what he's saying, since it's not every day we get this sort of perspective. Of course, we know we're in Poetry Land, where things aren't necessarily supposed to happen in real life, but the fun in imagining a talking pumpkin is still there.
- Line 1: Sandburg doesn't waste any time in establishing his speaker as a non-human "yellow ball" that "spot[s] the hills." The very first word is "I," so we know we're getting things directly from the source.
- Line 3: Here we get to see the pumpkins mature a bit into "orange clusters" that "light the prairie cornfields." Again, the line begins with "I" so we have a reminder that emphasizes the speaker's role.
- Line 5: It's our punch line that leaves no room for confusion: the speaker is called "pumpkins," and that's not just a cute nickname. It's the real deal name for our speaker because he is a pumpkin.
- Line 9: The kids circle round the pumpkin-speaker here and start to partake in the Halloween festivities. So, yet again, the pumpkin is at the center of it all.
- Line 12: By now, the "I" is a full blown "jack-o'-lantern," with "terrible teeth" so at this point we've seen the pumpkin-speaker transform from "yellow balls" to that emblematic Halloween getup.
- Line 15: Finally, the kids know he's only "fooling" and those "terrible teeth" aren't things to be scared of. So, although he's at the center of it all, his whole purpose here is to have fun with the kids.