The general meaning of the poem «Grass» by Carl Sandburg, is natures way to restore itself and cover up the destructive actions of us humans. There can also be drawn a link to the well-known proverb: «Those who do not remember history are condemned to repeat it».
There is also an element of time in the poem. The battles of Austerlitz and Waterloo took place in the beginning of the 19th century, then the battle of Gettysburg in 1863 and at least the battles of Ypres and Verdun during WW1 at the beginning of the 20th century. This is meant to show us how the ever forgiving nature covers up disaster after disaster created by the humans, letting us forget what ever happened there, and thus do the same thing all over again.
This poem shows very clearly which part of it is the beginning, the development and the ending by dividing it into three stanzas according to this pattern. The first one goes as following:
«Pile them high at Austerlitz and Waterloo,
Shovel them under and let me work -
I am the grass; I cover all.»
This is an introduction of the narrator of the poem, the grass.
The next stanza is slightly longer:
«And pile them high at Gettysburg
And pile them high at Ypres and Verdun.
Shovel them under and let me work.
Two years, ten years, and passengers ask the conductor:
What place is this?
Where are we now?»
In this part we get the rest of the story, and the poem starts to give meaning. This is the main part of the poem, where the poet states his main idea with the piece.
And eventually we get to the ending:
«I am the grass.
Let me work.»
This very short stanza concludes the poem repeating some of the elements from the first stanza. This rounds up the piece, connecting the beginning with the end and giving in form and harmony.
There is no specific system regarding the syllables of the poem. It does not follow many poetic norms, and makes a vivid and personal interpretation of rythm and mood possible.