Jaws Summary and Analysis by Carl Sandburg: 2022

Carl Sandburg- Widely regarded as “a major figure in contemporary literature”, Carl Sandburg, born in 1878, was an American poet, writer, and editor who had won three Pulitzer Prizes: two for his poetry and one for his biography of Abraham Lincoln. Sandburg himself was perhaps the first American urban folk singer, accompanying with himself a solo guitar at lectures and poetry recitals.
Setting of Jaws-
Carl Sandburg was unique compared to many other poets. All the poems that he wrote were short and straight to the point, yet his poems were very easy to understand,  including the poem ‘Jaws’. The poem takes you straight to the era of World War I, as it is mentioned that the poem is set around the month of August, in 1914, that was when the first World War began. The poem deals with sentiments relating to war and destruction, sadness, depression and ultimately death.

Poetic Devices in Jaws-

Line 1: ‘Seven nations stood’, ‘their hands on the’
Line 2: ‘was the first week’
Line 3:  ‘whole world was’
Line 4: ‘And all’
Line 11: ‘clicking and they go on clicking’


The poem is written in blank verse and is unrhymed.

Critical Analysis of Jaws- 

‘Jaws’ is a poem written about the historical event of World War I. Here the phrase ‘seven nations’ has been used to represent the entire world. Sandburg, in this poem is referring to the event of World War I, when the entire world was on the edge of extinction and was trapped within the jaws of death. ‘Jaws’ has been penned down around  the significant first week of August, 1914, the year considered to give birth to the vast destruction ever encountered by the mankind. The whole world was aware of the sadness, depression, large scale destruction which could even lead to wiping out of the entire human race; that would follow the war but still chose to shy away from it.  The poem talks about how the countries that were involved in the war had a chance to prevent the war, but ignored it. All the countries were listening to the message of God, which asked the people to believe in Him, for He will show the right path to provide everlasting lives, but the seven nations turned a deaf ear towards the voice and started walking on the path of destruction and devastation, thus getting trapped in the jaws of death which kept clicking and tearing everything apart, sparing none.

Central Idea of Jaws- 

It is a poem about World War I, and it talks about how the countries that were involved in the war had a chance to prevent war, but they ignored it. This poem should be included as an example of the poet’s work because it is saying what common people think and feel. The central idea and main motive of the poem, as can be figured, is to bring out the naive personality of the people, who were already aware of the destructive  and shattering consequences of the war yet turned blind for the sake of power and left the world trapped in the jaws of the death.

Tone of Jaws-

Sandburg used a lot of the generalisation methods to make his poems simpler to understand. It is short and straight-to-the-point poem which is all about history. Being straightforward, it is even suitable for the elementary children. Having been lived through many important and famous historical events, Carl Sandburg’s poem ‘Jaws’ generally revolves around the history of war.

Conclusion- The poem ‘Jaws’ is all about the wanton destruction of human life and the shattering of the entire world due to the greed of man for more power and control. The countries even had the option to select peace and harmony but their unlimited greed gave in to destruction and power. Though an event of 1914, its consequences are still heavy on the shoulders.

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