Who are the people Carl Sandburg is describing in the poem "Psalm of Those Who Go Forth Before Daylight?" 

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amarang9 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A psalm is a sacred song or prayer, originally intended to be accompanied by music (usually a harp). In the case of this poem, this psalm is a song/poem of praise. One of Carl Sandburg's favorite themes was working class people. So, this poem is a song of praise about them and the difficult work that they do.

He focuses on the physical aspects of the work they do in order to praise their determination and work ethic. The policeman chooses his shoes "slow and careful" and the teamster chooses his gloves with the same care and thought. He says "they live on their feet and hands." The policeman is on his feet all day. The teamster works with his hands all day. Sandburg is focusing on this simple fact to praise the hard work. 

The milkman never argues because he does all of his work while everyone is still asleep. It is a lonely job but, as they say, someone has to do it. Sandburg repeats "he never argues" to underscore how lonely the job must be. 

The mill and the steel workers must endure the burns and filth of the cinders. They are "brothers" in this way because they suffer the same way in their respective jobs. 

Kathryn Draney eNotes educator| Certified Educator
  • In the poem "Psalm of Those Who Go Forth Before Daylight," Carl Sandburg describes the people of the working class.