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Carl Sandburg (1878-1967)

literature

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Carl Sandburg

(1878-1967)



- became known as a poet, and the leading figure in Chicago group of writers that was just beginning to flourish, with the poem “Chicago” published in the literary magazine Poetry in 1914 marked by fearless colloquialism and vigorous free verse.

- His first volume, Chicago Poems (1916) shows sentimentalism and simple idealism depicting the crude, vital American Sandburg knew from his direct experience as a journalist. Chicago Poems contains Sandburg’s best and most typical work. It expresses a deep underlying love of people, people in the abstract but also seen in individuals. His poems about lonely desperate people are not psychologicalu deep but insteas they become the basis for outcries against social injustice.

- Sandburg is the poet of social consciousness in ways that Dos Passos was to adopt in his social protest novels of the twenties and thirties. He is the champion of the underdog and the little guy, the fellow who never had a chance. E.g.T in “Child of the Romans”(1916) a worker eats his sausage and bread by the railroad track while a train goes by on which men and women sir eating steaks;  in “Mamie”(1916) he captures the dreariness of of midewestern farm life with his portrait of a girl who yearns, like Dreiser’s Sister Carrie, for “romance among the streets of Chicago.”




- There are Whitman influences: his manner in praising the free, democratic primises of life, an attempt at duplicating his expansiveness of spirit. But one senses that what was for Whitman a genuine vision of cosmic nationalism has become in Sandburg only a stylized tribute to the physical energies of a growing nation symbolized by skyscrapers, grain elevators, steel mills.

- Sandburg’s interest in folk wisdom and popular sayings led him to use them in his poems, and even to try to make poems out of the raw material itself : Good Morning, America (1928) contains this kind of poetry, and shos the direction he was heading when he published The People, Yes (1936). It was clear by this time that Sandburg had found his voice in the voice of the people as a user of authentic native language. This is a combination of popular sayings, proverbs, poolroom slang, barbershop wisdom. This is the spirit in which Sandburg’s poetry will continue withou any significant change.








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