Carl Sandburg

Start Free Trial


Download PDF PDF Page Citation Cite Share Link Share

Last Updated on June 7, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 257

Sandburg, Carl 1878–1967

Sandburg was a poet, biographer, novelist, children's author, and folklorist who is often considered to have captured the essence of America in his works. He recorded and celebrated the history of the American people in such free-verse poems as "Chicago" and The People, Yes, works which reflect his respect and hope for the common man. Sandburg's own background provided a basis for his strong populist feeling. The son of illiterate immigrant parents, he traveled through the Midwest as a self-styled hobo, working a variety of odd jobs before becoming an organizer for the Socialist party and a Chicago newspaperman. Early in life Sandburg began to accumulate material on Abraham Lincoln, the result of which was an exhaustive, monumental six-volume biography for which he won a Pulitzer Prize in 1939. He wrote a novel, Remembrance Rock, and tales for children, The Rootabaga Stories, and also collected and performed national folk songs. Sandburg's second Pulitzer Prize was awarded in 1951 for his Collected Poems. In his poetry Sandburg often presented his images in the language of America, using colloquial and idiomatic lines and phrases which are both colorful and eloquent. Although his poetry has been criticized as being "subliterary," its readers have recognized themselves and their land in it. Sandburg was perhaps the most representative spokesman for Americans among the literary figures of his lifetime. In his eulogy, Lyndon Johnson said, "Carl Sandburg was more than the voice of America…. He was America." (See also CLC, Vols. 1, 4, and Contemporary Authors, Vols. 5-8, rev. ed.; obituary, Vols. 25-28, rev. ed.)

Gay Wilson Allen

Download PDF PDF Page Citation Cite Share Link Share

Last Updated on June 7, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1519

A prominent theme in Chicago Poems is the longing of ordinary people for the beauty and happiness they have never known. This clutching at dreams was not a creation of Sandburg's fantasy, but a social phenomenon which he accurately observed. (p. 18)

A more cheerful theme in Chicago Poems is the laughter and joy workmen manage to find in spite of their toil and poverty. (p. 19)

In the use of slang and undignified language Sandburg achieved in actuality the theory which Wordsworth set forth in his Preface to Lyrical Ballads: to "present incidents and situations from common life … in a selection of language really used by men …" Sandburg's poems are also more realistic than Wordsworth's, or even naturalistic (in the Zola sense), as in "The Walking Man of Rodin," with "The skull found always crumbling neighbor of the ankles." Yet Sandburg is also just as definitely romantic in his ability to see beauty in the commonplace. "The Shovel Man," for example, is

A dago working for a dollar six bits a day

And a dark-eyed woman in the old country dreams of him for one of the world's ready men with a pair of fresh lips and a kiss better than all the wild grapes that ever grew in Tuscany.

                                       (pp. 19-20)

In his second volume of poetry, Cornhuskers (1918), Sandburg played less the role of the urban poet and wrote more about rural sights and sounds and his wider experiences during World War I. (p. 20)

In these poems Sandburg shows his fondness for elemental things: sky, moon, stars, wind, birds, and animals. He celebrates nature in all seasons, but especially late summer and autumn: the ripening corn, the yellow cornflower in autumn wind, the blue of larkspur and Canadian thistle, and red-ripe tomatoes. (p. 21)

Sandburg has often been compared to Whitman, and he frequently wrote on the same themes, but always with his own handling of them. The long verses of "Prairie" look superficially like Whitman's form, but the music is different. A major distinction is in...

(This entire section contains 1519 words.)

See This Study Guide Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this study guide. You'll also get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

their treatment of the theme of death. To Whitman death was always beautiful, an old mother crooning a lullaby from the ocean of immortality, but to Sandburg death is the final irony of life—stillness, nothingness. In "Cool Tombs" Abraham Lincoln and his assassin, Ulysses Grant and the "con men" who brought shame to his administration, lovely Pocahontas and "a streetful of people" are all equalized "in the dust … in the cool tombs." This is one of Sandburg's most beautiful lyrics, and most devastatingly ironic. In "Grass" the scars of World War I will be covered by the perennial grass, not in a Pantheistic transmutation of men into vegetation, but as nature erases the scars of human violation of life. (pp. 22-3)

There are intimations, almost premonitions, of Eliot's Waste Land and "Hollow Men" in some passages in Smoke and Steel. In "Four Preludes on Playthings of the Wind" the cedar doors are broken and the golden girls vanished from the city which thought itself "the greatest city,/the greatest nation:/nothing like us ever was." Now the black crows caw and the rats scribble their hieroglyphic footprints on dusty doorsills. (p. 25)

An important influence unconnected with the war which became obvious in Smoke and Steel was the Japanese haiku. Sandburg had already become more aware of images because of the Imagistic movement discussed and practiced by Ezra Pound and Amy Lowell in Harriet Monroe's Poetry [to which Sandburg himself had been a contributor as early as 1914]…. [The] haiku taught him to insinuate cryptic wisdom in an image. (p. 26)

Sandburg's third volume of poetry was followed not by another book of poems but by Rootabaga Stories (1922), stories he had made up to amuse his three little daughters. These stories have a fairy-tale sense of unreality, with transformations, actions that defy gravity, and the reduction of winds, moons, landscapes, and human actions to child-fantasy dimensions. But much of the fun is in the names and places, with their absurd sounds, outrageous puns, and comic imagery. (p. 27)

To reassert his faith in the common people and to help them regain confidence in themselves [after the Depression], he wrote and published The People, Yes (1936). An amalgam of folk wisdom and wit, verbal clichés, tall tales, preaching, slangy conversation, "cracker-barrel" philosophy, and Carl Sandburg cheerfulness, the book served its purpose, as Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath did in another manner. It was wildly praised by people who liked Sandburg, and mostly ignored by those who did not. Mark Van Doren in a lecture on Sandburg at the Library of Congress in 1969 said, "The People, Yes is talk, nothing but talk." Van Doren did not mean this in a derogatory sense, and he was right. In this long talky poem we hear the voices of hundreds of Americans, and by listening we learn what kind of people they are, their ambitions, prejudices, superstitions, sense of humor, optimism, generosity, and sense of identity. But The People, Yes now seems repetitious and tedious…. (p. 31)

The whole structure of [Sandburg's novel, Remembrance Rock (1948)], if it may be so classified, is … obviously symbolical (its chief fault)…. Some of the characters are historical and some are fictional, representing the earliest white settlers of America, the period of the American Revolution, the migrations into and across the Great Plains, the Civil War, and World War II.

As in all of his writings, Sandburg is facile with conversation in Remembrance Rock, but the reader is made too aware of what each speaker "stands for." The story has heroic people and epic action, yet the total effect is that of a patriotic pageant rather than a novel. (pp. 33-4)

[As] a reader and contributor to Poetry in its early years, [Sandburg] was aware of the arguments for and against "free verse," a form (or, as its opponents said, lack of form) in which the phrase is the prosodic unit and the words themselves create their own rhythms. More important than where Sandburg learned free-verse techniques is the fact that he had an excellent ear for the musical sequence of sounds, the balancing and counterpointing of phrase against phrase. Sandburg wrote for both the ear and the eye. His famous "Chicago" poem has an almost architectural structure, beginning with the short, pithy salutation epithets…. Both the line breaks and the accents in the phrases [of "Chicago"] play variations on the tempo, slowing or speeding up the sounds to add emphasis. The difference between these long lines and ordinary prose is in the skillful paralleling and accumulating of grammatical units (phrases and clauses). The resulting rhythm is grammatical, or rhetorical, rather than metrical. (pp. 36-7)

One of the many ways in which Sandburg's sense of rhythm became more subtle and sensitive was in his handling of syllabic weight, timbre, and vowel tone. This development culminated in the marvelous tone poem "When Death Came April Twelve 1945" [written upon the death of Franklin Roosevelt], which opens:

             Can a bell ring in the heart              telling the time, telling a moment,              telling off a stillness come,              in the afternoon a stillness come              and now never come morning?

The bell intones throughout the elegy, not mechanically as in Poe's "The Bells," but resonating the deep feelings of the nation grieving for its lost commander, and the sons lost in the South Pacific or on European soil, all now sleeping after toil and battle. The tones of the poem, reinforcing the images of stillness and silence, have the empathy of cleansing and calming the emotions of the readers (hearers). In every technical detail the elegy is almost perfectly ordered, timed, and developed…. (p. 38)

The longest and most ambitious poem in Honey and Salt is "Timesweep." The theme might be said to be the same as "Wilderness" (1918), in which the poet lyrically boasted of his kinship with foxes, wolves, and other wild animals. But "Timesweep" is both more genuinely lyrical and more philosophical, lyrical in the poet's empathy with the natural forces and creatures with which he feels a sympathetic kinship, and philosophical in his knowledge of his place in the cosmic scheme. (p. 42)

Sandburg's poem is more personal, less "prophetic" in tone [than Whitman's "Song of Myself," to which it has often been compared], more aware of human limitations, but the lyrical utterance of a sensitive man who enjoys the sights and sounds of his physical existence…. (p. 43)

Knowledge that some almost infinite (or perhaps infinite) chain of life begot him out of Nowhere to Somewhere gives Sandburg sufficient assurance of a purpose at work, however humanly unknowable. He will not worry about theology, or teleology. Yet "Timesweep" throws more light on Sandburg's philosophy than any other literary work of his. At the end of this last poem we find a summation of his humanism, rooted in his early socialism, and consolidated by a lifetime of effort to propagate the idea that the Family of Man is One Man:

There is only one man in the world and his name is All men.

                                     (pp. 44-5)

Gay Wilson Allen, in her Carl Sandburg (American Writers Pamphlet No. 101; © 1972, University of Minnesota), University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 1972.

David Perkins

Download PDF PDF Page Citation Cite Share Link Share

Last Updated on June 7, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1090

[Vachel] Lindsay once said that "the people of America walk through me, all the people walk through my veins, as though they were in the streets of a city, and clamor for voice." But it was Carl Sandburg …, even more than Lindsay, who wrote the poetry whose underlying intention is suggested by these words. His legacies to later poets were his "report of the people," as William Carlos Williams called it, and his flexible, inventive, and scrapbook methods of presentation. His work provoked bitter controversy. To admirers he seemed to give poetry purpose and relevance and to liberate its technique. (p. 356)

The Chicago Poems were a shock to most readers. The title poem created a myth of the city as a strong man, a sweating worker, and rejoiced in his brutal strength. Other poems pictured the urban and industrial milieu. Sandburg underscored the contrast of the slums with the wealthy homes along the lakeshore; he pictured such sights as the skyscrapers looming in the smoke…. He tended especially to give portraits or brief accounts of typical characters….

Here was a directly phrased poetry of the contemporary world. It gave sights and sounds. It showed people at work. It had something to say about the character and quality of their lives. It dwelt on the romance in the familiar and it enforced a political and social message by concrete contrasts. (p. 357)

Sandburg did not merely describe the people; he glorified them. He was the opposite of Eliot, who was repelled by "Apeneck Sweeney" and the "damp souls of housemaids." To Sandburg the picnicking Hungarians, the prostitutes, the shovel man, and the working girls were so many jewels, which his poetry exhibited. (p. 358)

The theme of his next volume, Cornhuskers (1918), was the prairie. Here he pictured farm people and their work. He also dwelled on the beauty and fatness, the mellow scents and sounds of the land. Social protest was not present in all his Chicago Poems nor was it absent from Cornhuskers, but most of the pieces in the latter, such as "Grass" and "Cool Tombs," were lyrics of a more traditional type, contemplating time, vastness, change, perenniality, and death. Sandburg did not wrestle very strenuously with these mysteries; neither did he find them very chilling. It is poetry of the agreeable kind, bland, relaxed, simply direct, and very fond of its subject.

Henceforth Sandburg's poetry tended to fall into one or the other of these loosely separate kinds: he either dwelled on the lives and qualities of the people or felt a "philosophic" pathos—he often did both in the same poem. There are also pleasant poetic impressions, such as "Fog." The effect of the 771 pages of his poetry is no test of his worth, but is may be remarked that his "philosophic" pathos becomes wearisome because it lacks energy. He recites fact with an absence or inarticulateness of feeling and with comparatively few thoughts in his head. The effect is of a quizzicalness or a slight wonder or a vague, momentary disturbance of mind, soon settling into calm…. Similarly, his poems of social protest are often no more than sketchy outlines in black and white. (pp. 358-59)

Better than any other poet, Sandburg represents the new style of the 1910s—the "modern" style before Eliot…. In Sandburg one sees what the age had to teach about writing. "Chicago" is an imitation of Whitman; some of the Chicago Poems might be one-deimensional versions of the Robinsonian portrait; some are Impressionist; some combine Impressionism with the sparer imagery of Japanese verse. As for Imagism, Sandburg said he had no connection with it. But his poems seek the concreteness and objectivity which the Imagists communicated to American poetry in general. He is not always simple or easy to understand, but the materials of his poetry—the facts, images, allusions—are never recondite.

The most striking thing about Sandburg's style is its flexibility and inventiveness, its freedom to use whatever means or methods seem appropriate…. His vocabulary is simple and seldom "poetic" or abstract but, with these limitations, it is flexibly ready to adapt to the subject. He exploits the diction of common speech when it suits him, and one finds slang and vigorous folk metaphors…. Usually, however, his diction has a precision that mitigates the impression of vernacular speech. His syntax can have the shapelessness of talk:

         And I saw a crowd of Hungarians under the                trees with their women and children                and a keg of beer and an accordion.

But he also makes much use of parallel syntax and repetition, and his effects can be decidedly rhetorical. He never uses meters. That is the only general remark that can be made about his versification, for everything depends on the effect he seeks, which may require a drumming, recurrent rhythm or a rhythmless sprawl. The principles of form that govern his poetry are simply the principles of effective thinking and presentation in general—revelance, economy, contrast, conclusion, and the like.

He was more gifted in sympathy than in synthesis. He enters, though not deeply, into characters, feelings, and objects over a broad range but takes them one at a time…. The objects accumulated or contrasted make a meaningful pattern, but they do not interpenetrate…. The list of associations is one of his main poetic forms. He picks a large, vague subject—"Prairie," "River Roads," "Band Concert," "Smoke and Steel," "Pennsylvania," "Hazardous Occupations"—and accumulates facts, thoughts, images, and poetic feelings about it. The effect is of a scrapbook. Its items convey the same general attitude of appreciation, social protest, or whatever. The People, Yes (1936), a heap of sayings, anecdotes, character sketches, dialogues, and the like, shows the method at book length; the subject is "the people" and the attitude is "yes." Sandburg's greatest weakness as a poet was the minimal demand he made of a poem. It was enough to render the sound of the wind ("Wind Song") or contrast the bustle of a street by day with its stillness by night ("Blue Island Intersection"). Or it was enough merely to make some bland observation, or evoke some pleasant object or feeling, or accumulate images without tension or wit. His example helped poets surrender to what Yeats called the greatest temptation of the artist, creation without toil. (pp. 359-61)

David Perkins, in his A History of Modern Poetry: From the 1890s to the High Modernist Mode (copyright © 1976 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College; excerpted by permission of the author and publishers), Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1976.

Louis D. Rubin, Jr.

Download PDF PDF Page Citation Cite Share Link Share

Last Updated on June 7, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 2103

[Sandburg's] way of using language can be deceptive. It is much like prose in its syntax, and the colloquial vocabulary adds to an apparent casualness. In his best poetry Sandburg uses vernacular language, slang even; by this I mean that in Sandburg's instance it isn't the self-conscious employment of a "low" vocabulary to call attention to commonness, a vaunting of plebeian virtue (though later in his career Sandburg was prone to do just this, ad nauseam). An expression such as "the crack trains of the nation" is an organic part of his vocabulary, not an affectation, and he employs the adjective because it is simply the appropriate word to image what he wishes to convey about the train. As such it provides precisely the intensification of language, the heightened awareness of the texture of experience, that the best poetry affords.

I stress this because unless the way in which Sandburg employs vernacular imagery is properly recognized, his way of poetry will be misunderstood. If we compare, for example, "Limited" [in Chicago Poems (1916)] with another fine poem about a train, Stephen Spender's "Express," we can see the difference. Spender writes of "the black statement of pistons," portrays the train as "gliding like a queen," as "gathering speed" so that "she acquires mystery," and so on, until "like a comet through flames she moves entranced," and as conclusion: "Wrapt in her music, no bird song, no, nor bough/Breaking with honey buds, shall ever equal." Spender thus asserts in his poem that the train, an artifact of industrialism, is eminently worthy of the kind of aesthetic contemplation accorded to other objects that have traditionally been the subject of poems. He does it by applying to the train certain imagery and reference customarily ascribed to more familiarly poetic matter, and he ends his poem with the assertion that the beauty of the train is superior to that of most conventionally beautiful objects.

Sandburg might well have agreed, but in "Limited" he felt no occasion to assert the right of the train to such treatment. On the contrary he assumes it, as a matter of language. To refer to a "crack" train, to "fifteen all-steel coaches," to "diners" and "sleepers," to a man as being "in the smoker" is in his poetics all that the railroad imagery needed to make his point; and he will conduct his poem in such terms, without any feeling of self-consciousness in doing so, and without having to introduce traditional poetic imagery to justify the depiction of a train in a poem. This is what I mean about the language as being vernacular in an organic way, not as tour de force or demonstration. (pp. 182-83)

Of course there is no inherent literary virtue to using vernacular discourse in a poem, or for that matter any other kind of discourse. But given Sandburg's mastery of the vernacular, his ability as a poet to think in it without self-consciousness, it should be obvious that he enjoys certain advantages in dealing as poet with the kind of experience that he writes about. If you wish to write a poem about a railroad train, then if you can do so in the kind of documentary denotation that you and others customarily use to think about a train, without having to introduce for your purposes a different convention of language not customarily applied to it, you will be able to come closer to being able to reproduce your personal experience of the train. The same goes for other objects of Sandburg's experience…. And in the poems of Sandburg's best years he is able not only to invest that kind of experience with language that can give it the intensity of poetry but also to achieve the intensification within and through the rhythms, syntax, parallelisms, and imagery of the vernacular reference customarily employed to denote that experience. He is able, in short, to make the ordinary into the extraordinary on its own terms, without violating the everyday authenticity of the documentation.

The result is an enlargement of the range and nature of our poetic experience through his poems. Any good poet provides that; Sandburg's particular talent is that he opens up areas of our experience which are not ordinarily considered objects of aesthetic contemplation, through language that enables him, and us, to recognize such experience in new ways.

A great deal has been made of his work as being, in its subject and its language, essentially midwestern American, and this is quite true. It is not thereby the less general or sophisticated in its relevance, however; and the view of Sandburg as a kind of rude, untutored regional bard whose poetry achieves its effects through its presentation of novel subjects attendant upon the industrialization of the cities and towns of the Corn Belt hardly bears serious scrutiny. He is, at his best, a poet of much subtlety and sophistication; and it is through the skillful intensification of language, not fresh subjects alone, that he works his art. It is true that his language is much closer to the rhythms and word choices of vernacular discourse than what one normally encounters in verse, but it is precisely through that discourse that he works his poetry…. [It] is not the subject as such, so much as what Sandburg does with the language, that makes the poem. Sandburg's best poetry will survive, where the once popular Spoon River Anthology of Edgar Lee Masters has faded, because Masters placed his emphasis on subject, the "thought," while Sandburg at his best achieves it with language.

There is, of course, a built-in psychological hazard in such poetics, and by the early 1920s Sandburg succumbed to it. The best poems in Chicago Poems (1916), Cornhuskers (1918), and Smoke and Steel (1920) succeed because of the tension between the idiom and the subject; their impact lies in the resolution, through language, of that tension. But from using vernacular language to intensify everyday experience into poetry it is an easy, and a fatal, step for one to begin assuming that because the experience is ordinary and the language is of the earth earthy, they are therefore inherently Poetic. To depict in compelling and appropriate language a train moving across the prairie is one thing; it is another and a considerably less interesting matter to assert that because it is a train on the midwestern American prairie, and because the language is avowedly vernacular, the joint appearance within a poem constitutes the poetry. On the contrary the instant that the tension between language and object is slackened, what is produced is not poetry but rhetoric.

This is what begins happening to Sandburg as poet very early in his career; following the Chicago Poems his poetry shows an increasing tendency thereafter, in almost a kind of geometric progression, to substitute rhetoric about experience for evocation of his experience. Sandburg began to believe his press notices. He was now the Poet of Mid-America, and thenceforward he sought to live up to the title by cataloguing the everyday scene in the Midwest. His poetry had been likened to Walt Whitman's; now he proceeded to imitate the least attractive aspects of Whitman's verse, producing only hot air and chaff. You are parodying yourself, his friend Joseph Warren Beach warned him. This is precisely what he was doing, with the process culminating in The People, Yes (1936), in which democratic ideology is passed off as being Poetic merely because it is personified and documented. There is no tension, no discovery. There are no people in The People, Yes; all is abstract, "typical." The single, terribly glad fish crier of the Chicago Poems is more human and credible than all the varieties of abstracted Common Men catalogued in the 107 sections of The People, Yes.

It is clear that by the early 1920s Sandburg was no longer interested in writing poems. He had become increasingly involved in prose, in particular with the life of Abraham Lincoln. Had he continued to invest in poetry the emotional capital that now went into biography, he might have developed further as a poet. But he became occupied with what turned out to be a six-volume biography of the war president. Few persons who are properly familiar with his work on Lincoln, especially with the four volumes of Abraham Lincoln: The War Years (1939), can overly regret his defection from the muse, however. (pp. 184-86)

The practice among academic historians has been to dismiss Sandburg's biography as being "useful for its poetic insights"—which, coming from an academic historian, is not intended to be a compliment, since in such circles to be "poetic" is an euphemism for being unreliable and impressionistic.

There is a sense in which such criticism is valid for the two early volumes, The Prairie Years (1926), and in particular the first of these, which is developed out of sometimes scanty factual material…. But if Sandburg erred in dealing too imaginatively with the sparse source material available for writing The Prairie Years, he would seem to have taken to heart the criticism to that effect made by book reviewers at the time of publication, for the four volumes of The War Years, while written with grace and while unfailingly interesting in presentation, are solidly anchored in abundantly recorded fact; and they seldom drift into unsubstantiated hypothesizing. They are a remarkable portrayal not only of Lincoln himself but of all the major and many of the minor figures around him…. The War Years constitutes not only a perceptive biography but a magnificently detailed history of the United States during the civil war. Academic historians may fault the work because Sandburg did not bother to annotate his sources; to the general reader this is no stumbling block at all. At times repetitious, the work contains few factual errors and is never opinionated or unfair. I know no other work on nineteenth-century American history that can surpass it for its depiction of the times and its delineation of Lincoln. I read it through again recently and was more than ever convinced of its magisterial stature. Sandburg's biography of Abraham Lincoln is a classic of our language; it puts the other biographies of the man in the shade. (pp. 186-87)

For the remainder of his days Sandburg regularly indulged in grandiloquent Yea-Saying and celebrating of the Volksgeist, becoming and remaining a kind of professional Prophet of Democracy demonstrating (so far as I am concerned) impeccable political attitudes and insufferable intellectual allegiances. He participated in all the claptrap of midcentury middlebrow liberalism, blending invocations to democracy, pseudopopulist jargon, and commercialized aesthetics in a soufflé heavily flavored with cliché. (p. 187)

The language of discovery [became] the rhetoric of advertising. The early 1960s found him out in Beverly Hills, serving as consultant for a movie on the life of Christ!

Yet in 1952 he also produced a beautiful memoir, Always the Young Strangers, chronicling his childhood and young manhood, a book written with freshness, candor, without pose or glibness. Returning to the recollection of his early days, he seemed to have sloughed off all the hokum, pretense, and self-serving rhetoric, and found his integrity still undamaged and unabated. It is almost as if there were two Carl Sandburgs, one of them the private, sensitive artist, the other the public performer, self-important and pompous, willing to debase the language for gain. (p. 188)

In 1963, at the age of eighty-five, he brought out a new volume of poetry, Honey and Salt. Astoudingly he seemed to have regained his long neglected energy as lyric poet. Here was the old vision of the real world he inhabited, a trifle dimmed perhaps but once again depicting remembered experience in new language…. Compared with the best of the early poems, only a few of those in Honey and Salt quite manage to hold their own. But the verse in Sandburg's last book is in large part interesting, genuine, alive: once again, after many years, language is being put to work.

Those who chronicle and interpret American letters are bound ultimately to rediscover for themselves the excellence of Carl Sandburg. When that happens, the fine poet and masterful biographer will at last reemerge from the dumps. There have been other poets who have written and spoken silly things—things far sillier and sometimes considerably more sinister than ever he wrote or spoke—and who have woven a public image of specious rhetoric and role-playing about their reputations, and yet been remembered finally because at their best they wrote well. (pp. 188-89)

Louis D. Rubin, Jr., "Not to Forget Carl Sandburg …," in Sewanee Review (reprinted by permission of the editor; © 1977 by The University of the South), Winter, 1977, pp. 181-89.


Sandburg, Carl (Vol. 1)


Sandburg, Carl (Vol. 15)