Jazz Fantasia

Drum on your drums, batter on your banjoes,

sob on the long cool winding saxophones.

Go to it, O jazzmen.


Sling your knuckles on the bottoms of the happy

tin pans, let your trombones ooze, and go husha-

husha-hush with the slippery sand-paper.


Moan like an autumn wind high in the lonesome treetops,

moan soft like you wanted somebody terrible, cry like a

racing car slipping away from a motorcycle cop, bang-bang!

you jazzmen, bang altogether drums, traps, banjoes, horns,

tin cans — make two people fight on the top of a stairway

and scratch each other’s eyes in a clinch tumbling down

the stairs.


Can the rough stuff . . . now a Mississippi steamboat pushes

up the night river with a hoo-hoo-hoo-oo . . . and the green

lanterns calling to the high soft stars . . . a red moon rides

on the humps of the low river hills . . . go to it, O jazzmen.


Carl Sandburg (1878-1967), from Smoke and Steel, Harcourt, Brace and Howe, New York, 1920

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