Carl Sandburg American Literature Analysis
Sandburg wrote of the American common people; his work glorified both the everyday person and everyday life. “Moonlight and mittens,” he believed, were the stuff of art. In addition, he made poetry of the harsh realities of immigrant urban life. Like nineteenth century American poet Walt Whitman, Sandburg broke with poetic convention by addressing “unpoetic” subjects, such as butchering and railroads. Also like Whitman, he broke with conventional rhyme schemes and forms; his verse is often called “prosy” in that he uses much dialogue and employs long lines.
Sandburg defended free verse by quoting Oliver Wendell Holmes: “Rhythm alone is a tether, and not a very long one. But rhymes are iron fetters.” Sandburg had an excellent ear for speech rhythms and the musical cadences of words. His form grew naturally out of his content, not only because of his skill in hearing the musical connotations of words but also because of his ability to balance and counterbalance phrases and clauses.
Critics sometimes regarded Sandburg as “subliterary.” The polished literary fashion of his time considered form, structure, imagery, tension, and irony more important than content.
Sandburg’s poetry was a vehicle for his message of faith in “the people.” He did not brood over poetry and what constitutes art but instead had an almost irreverent attitude toward aesthetic theories. The question remains, however, whether Sandburg...
(The entire section is 1801 words.)
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