Sandburg was the first modern poet to use the language of the American people extensively in his work. For this reason alone, he deserves a place in American literary history. Although his work is not always polished, he achieved at times an enduring art. His best poems convey the vigor and brokenness of industrialization, the quaintness of small towns, and the transience of nature and love. His vision encompassed both the light and the dark. His best poems captured a part of the essence of his time and enlarged the potentials of language and subjects for other modern poets.
Carl August Sandburg was born on January 6, 1878, in Galesburg, Illinois, the second of five children in the family of August and Clara Sandburg, Swedish immigrants of peasant stock. August Sandburg was a blacksmith’s helper with the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad, and his wife kept house with the children and later took in boarders. The two had met in Illinois while Clara was working as a hotel chambermaid, and August had come to town as a section hand with the railroad. Carl had an older sister, Mary; a younger brother, Martin; and two younger sisters, Esther and Martha. Two other younger brothers died of diphtheria.
The Sandburgs were a thrifty, hardworking family, regular in their Lutheran Church...
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Carl Sandburg, as an individual and a writer, seems distinctively American, belonging to a land where people are restless, inventive, jacks of all trades, where people rise to greatness from humble beginnings. Born in Galesburg, Illinois, Carl August was the second child of August and Clara Anderson Sandburg. Legend says that his father, a blacksmith, changed his name from Johnson to Sandburg to avoid confusion with the other August Johnsons in Galesburg, but Carl himself (perhaps to increase the confusion) quoted his mother as saying the name was originally Danielson.
The restlessness of America came early to young Carl. His schooling was fitful, and at thirteen he began the first of many jobs that sound almost like...
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Charles August Sandburg was born in a modest clapboard cottage on January 6, 1878, in Galesburg, Illinois, to Swedish immigrants August Sandburg and Clara Anderson Sandburg. August worked for the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad; Clara Anderson had been a hotel chambermaid before she was married. August Sandburg could read a Swedish Bible, but that was all. He signed his name with an X. Clara Sandburg could write in colloquial Swedish and could phonetically spell English and encouraged her son’s learning.
Charles, or Carl, as he was later to call himself, enjoyed school but deviated from the prescribed curriculum. He quit school after the eighth grade to help his father support the family. Sandburg stated...
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