Carl Sandburg





Wilderness

There is a wolf in me . . . fangs pointed for tearing gashes . . . a red tongue for raw 
meat . . . and the hot lapping of blood—I keep this wolf because the wilderness 
gave it to me and the wilderness will not let it go.    

There is a fox in me . . . a silver-gray fox . . . I sniff and guess . . . I pick things out 
of the wind and air . . . I nose in the dark night and take sleepers and eat them and 
hide the feathers . . . I circle and loop and double-cross.

There is a hog in me . . . a snout and a belly . . . a machinery for eating and 
grunting . . . a machinery for sleeping satisfied in the sun—I got this too from the 
wilderness and the wilderness will not let it go.

There is a fish in me . . . I know I came from salt-blue water-gates . . . I scurried 
with shoals of herring . . . I blew waterspouts with porpoises . . . before land 
was . . . before the water went down . . . before Noah . . . before the first chapter of
Genesis.

There is a baboon in me . . . clambering-clawed . . . dog-faced . . . yawping a 
galoot’s hunger . . . hairy under the armpits . . . here are the hawk-eyed hankering 
men . . . here are the blonde and blue-eyed women . . . here they hide curled asleep 
waiting . . . ready to snarl and kill . . . ready to sing and give milk . . . waiting—I 
keep the baboon because the wilderness says so.

There is an eagle in me and a mockingbird . . . and the eagle flies among the Rocky 
Mountains of my dreams and fights among the Sierra crags of what I want . . . and 
the mockingbird warbles in the early forenoon before the dew is gone, warbles in 
the underbrush of my Chattanoogas of hope, gushes over the blue Ozark foothills 
of my wishes—And I got the eagle and the mockingbird from the wilderness.

O, I got a zoo, I got a menagerie, inside my ribs, under my bony head, under my 
red-valve heart—and I got something else: it is a man-child heart, a woman-child 
heart: it is a father and mother and lover: it came from God-Knows-Where: it is 
going to God-Knows-Where—For I am the keeper of the zoo: I say yes and no: I 
sing and kill and work: I am a pal of the world: I came from the wilderness.