Study Guide

Grass Man and the Natural World

By Carl Sandburg

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Man and the Natural World

In Sandburg's "Grass," we have a battle between man and nature. We have to admit, it's not the most exciting battle—no one's being chased by shark-nadoes or pursued by bears—but the battle is waging nonetheless. For better or for worse, humans have changed the physical landscape with their wars, and, for better or for worse, the grass is covering that landscape and returning it to nature. In effect, nature washes away all the signs of human trouble and turmoil. In "Grass," there's no more war, but there's also no way to remember war. Maybe the grass is a bit too diligent in its work. Take vacation already.

Questions About Man and the Natural World

  1. Does the poem ultimately suggest that the grass is harmful or helpful? What parts of the poem support your answer?
  2. Does the poem offer up alternatives to the grass's erasure of the signs of war? Can you imagine any natural methods that we could use to honor the memory of fallen soldiers? 
  3. Do you think that Sandburg is afraid of the power of nature? Does he admire it? Does he think that nature is something that must be overcome by humans? Why do you think so?

Chew on This

The grass does a good thing by covering "all." No one wants to look at bloody battlefields for centuries. High five there, grass.

By covering "all," the grass hides our history, and this is a problem. We need to be able to see the past to understand it. Knock it off already, grass.

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