Carl Sandburg

Carl Sandburg Poems

1.

The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
...

Arithmetic is where numbers fly like pigeons in and out of your
    head.
Arithmetic tell you how many you lose or win if you know how
    many you had before you lost or won.
...

Hog Butcher for the World,
Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler;
Stormy, husky, brawling,
...

Give me hunger,
O you gods that sit and give
The world its orders.
Give me hunger, pain and want,
...

I cried over beautiful things knowing no beautiful thing lasts.

The field of cornflower yellow is a scarf at the neck of the copper
   sunburned woman, the mother of the year, the taker of seeds.
...

A father sees his son nearing manhood.
What shall he tell that son?
'Life is hard; be steel; be a rock.'
And this might stand him for the storms
...

All day long in fog and wind,
The waves have flung their beating crests
Against the palisades of adamant.
My boy, he went to sea, long and long ago,
...

Your western heads here cast on money,
You are the two that fade away together,
Partners in the mist.
...

Among the red guns,
In the hearts of soldiers
Running free blood
In the long, long campaign:
...

10.

Pile the bodies high at Austerlitz and Waterloo.
Shovel them under and let me work--
          I am the grass; I cover all.
...

A lone gray bird,
Dim-dipping, far-flying,
Alone in the shadows and grandeurs and tumults
Of night and the sea
...

You will come one day in a waver of love,
Tender as dew, impetuous as rain,
The tan of the sun will be on your skin,
The purr of the breeze in your murmuring speech,
...

Between two hills
The old town stands.
The houses loom
And the roofs and trees
...

Bend low again, night of summer stars.
So near you are, sky of summer stars,
So near, a long-arm man can pick off stars,
Pick off what he wants in the sky bowl,
...

I asked the professors who teach the meaning of life to tell
me what is happiness.
And I went to famous executives who boss the work of
thousands of men.
...

It's a jazz affair, drum crashes and coronet razzes.
The trombone pony neighs and the tuba jackass snorts.
The banjo tickles and titters too awful.
The chippies talk about the funnies in the papers.
...

Smash down the cities.
Knock the walls to pieces.
Break the factories and cathedrals, warehouses
and homes
...

Many things I might have said today.
And I kept my mouth shut.
So many times I was asked
To come and say the same things
...

Now the stone house on the lake front is finished and the
workmen are beginning the fence.
The palings are made of iron bars with steel points that
can stab the life out of any man who falls on them.
...

Carl Sandburg Biography

Carl Sandburg was an American writer and editor, best known for his poetry. He won three Pulitzer Prizes, two for his poetry and another for a biography of Abraham Lincoln. H. L. Mencken called Carl Sandburg "indubitably an American in every pulse-beat." Biography Sandburg was born in Galesburg, Illinois, to parents of Swedish ancestry. At the age of thirteen (During Eighth grade) he left school and began driving a milk wagon. From the age of about fourteen until he was seventeen or eighteen, he worked as a porter at the Union Hotel barbershop in Galesburg. After that he was on the milk route again for 18 months. He then became a bricklayer and a farm laborer on the wheat plains of Kansas. After an interval spent at Lombard College in Galesburg, he became a hotel servant in Denver, then a coal-heaver in Omaha. He began his writing career as a journalist for the Chicago Daily News. Later he wrote poetry, history, biographies, novels, children's literature, and film reviews. Sandburg also collected and edited books of ballads and folklore. He spent most of his life in the Midwest before moving to North Carolina. Sandburg volunteered to go to the military and was stationed in Puerto Rico with the 6th Illinois Infantry during the Spanish–American War, disembarking at Guánica, Puerto Rico on July 25, 1898. Sandburg was never actually called to battle. He attended West Point for just two weeks, before failing a mathematics and grammar exam. Sandburg returned to Galesburg and entered Lombard College, but left without a degree in 1903. He moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and joined the Social Democratic Party, the name by which the Socialist Party of America was known in the state. Sandburg served as a secretary to Emil Seidel, socialist mayor of Milwaukee from 1910 to 1912. Sandburg met Lilian Steichen at the Social Democratic Party office in 1907, and they married the next year. Lilian's brother was the photographer Edward Steichen. Sandburg with his wife, whom he called Paula, raised three daughters. Sandburg moved to Harbert, Michigan, and then suburban Chicago, Illinois. They lived in Evanston, Illinois, before settling at 331 S. York Street in Elmhurst, Illinois, from 1919 to 1930. Sandburg wrote three children's books in Elmhurst, Rootabaga Stories, in 1922, followed by Rootabaga Pigeons (1923), and Potato Face (1930). Sandburg also wrote Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years, a two volume biography in 1926, The American Songbag (1927), and a book of poems Good Morning, America (1928) in Elmhurst. The family moved to Michigan in 1930. The Sandburg house at 331 W. York Street, Elmhurst was demolished and the site is now a parking lot. The War Years, for which he won the Pulitzer Prize in 1940. Sandburg's Complete Poems won him a second Pulitzer Prize in 1951. He moved to a Flat Rock, North Carolina estate, Connemara, in 1945 and lived there until his death in 1967. Sandburg supported the civil rights movement, and contributed to the NAACP. Works Carl Sandburg rented a room in this house where he lived for three years while he wrote the poem "Chicago". It's now a Chicago landmark. Much of Carl Sandburg's poetry, such as "Chicago", focused on Chicago, Illinois, where he spent time as a reporter for the Chicago Daily News and the Day Book. His most famous description of the city is as "Hog Butcher for the World/Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat/Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler,/Stormy, Husky, Brawling, City of the Big Shoulders." Sandburg is also remembered by generations of children for his Rootabaga Stories and Rootabaga Pigeons, a series of whimsical, sometimes melancholy stories he originally created for his own daughters. The Rootabaga Stories were born of Sandburg's desire for "American fairy tales" to match American childhood. He felt that the European stories involving royalty and knights were inappropriate, and so populated his stories with skyscrapers, trains, corn fairies and the "Five Marvelous Pretzels". Sandburg earned Pulitzer Prizes for his collection The Complete Poems of Carl Sandburg, Corn Huskers, and for his biography of Abraham Lincoln (Abraham Lincoln: The War Years). He recorded excerpts from the biography and some of Lincoln's speeches for Caedmon Records in New York City in May 1957. He was awarded a Grammy Award in 1959 for Best Performance – Documentary Or Spoken Word (Other Than Comedy) for his recording of Aaron Copland's Lincoln Portrait with the New York Philharmonic. Legacy Carl Sandburg's boyhood home in Galesburg is now operated by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency as the Carl Sandburg State Historic Site. The site contains the cottage Sandburg was born in, a modern visitor's center, and small garden with a large stone called Remembrance Rock, under which he and his wife Lilian's ashes are buried. Sandburg's home of 22 years in Flat Rock, Henderson County, North Carolina, is preserved by the National Park Service as the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site. Carl Sandburg College is located in Sandburg's birthplace of Galesburg, Illinois. Carl Sandburg Village was a Chicago urban renewal project of the 1960s located in the Near North Side, Chicago. Financed by the city, it is located between Clark and LaSalle St. between Division Street and North Ave. Solomon & Cordwell, architects. In 1979, Carl Sandburg Village was converted to condominium ownership. Elmhurst, Illinois, renamed the former Elmhurst Junior High School as 'Carl Sandburg Middle School,' in his honor in 1960. Sandburg spoke at the dedication ceremony. He resided at 331 S. York Street in Elmhurst from 1919 to 1930. The house was demolished and the site is a parking lot. In 1954, Carl Sandburg High School was dedicated in Orland Park, Illinois. Mr. Sandburg was in attendance, and stretched what was supposed to be a one hour event into several hours, regaling students with songs and stories. Years later, he returned to the school with no identification and, appearing to be a hobo, was thrown out by the principal. When he later returned with I.D., the embarrassed principal canceled the rest of the school day and held an assembly to honor the visit. In 1959, Carl Sandburg Junior High School was opened in Golden Valley, Minnesota. Carl Sandburg attended the dedication of the school. In 1988 the name was changed to Sandburg Middle School servicing grades 6, 7, and 8. Originally built with a capacity for 1,800 students the school now has 1,100 students enrolled. Sandburg Middle school was one of the first schools in the state of Minnesota to offer accelerated learning programs for gifted students. In December 1961, Carl Sandburg Elementary School was dedicated in San Bruno, California. Again, Sandburg came for the ceremonies and was clearly impressed with the faces of the young children, who gathered around him. The school was closed in the 1980s, due to falling enrollments in the San Bruno Park School District. In Neshaminy School District of lower Bucks County resides the secondary institution Carl Sandburg Middle School. Located in the lobby is a finished split tree trunk with the quote engraved lengthwise horizontally: "Man is born with rainbows in his heart and you'll never read him unless you consider rainbows". Another secondary school by the same name is located south of Alexandria, Virginia, and is part of the Fairfax County Public Schools School District. Sandburg Halls is a student residence hall at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. The building consists of 4 high rise towers with a total housing capacity of 2,700 students. It has an exterior plaque on Sandburg's roles as an organizer for the Social Democratic Party and as personal secretary to Emil Seidel, Milwaukee's first Socialist mayor. There are several other schools named after Sandburg in Illinois, including those in Wheaton, Orland Park, Springfield, Mundelein, and Joliet.)

The Best Poem Of Carl Sandburg

Fog

The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

Carl Sandburg Comments

Barry Gross 02 March 2012

When I listen to a politician trumpet proud words I wonder, if hidden by the lectern, are polished wingtips or long, hard boots.

201 148 Reply
Malkisedik Yahya 06 September 2008

i love sandburg's works, especially that use the wor 'moon'..wish me luck b'coz i wanna write my undergraduate thesis about the meaning of sandburg's works that use the word 'moon'...

180 163 Reply
Rosa Jamali 01 June 2008

I think postmodern poetry owes Sandburg, as he was the first to describe machinery life, he expanded the range of words in poetry & he tried to add some new concepts, we have to reread Sandburg to go forward...

167 142 Reply
A. Michael Sears 13 February 2006

What can I say? Carl Sandburg is truly a master. His ability to celebrate the beauty and greatness in all things common, is unmatched. And since the publication of 'Chicago Poems' in 1916, the voice of modern poetry has never been the same.

77 49 Reply
Raymond Farrell 03 December 2015

It is a pity that the academic elite these days do not hold Carl Sandburg in very high esteem compared to Stevens or Elliot or even John Ashbury in instances.

37 23 Reply
Kathy 09 May 2020

looking for the Sandburg poem, " now we shall open boxes and look..." - anyone have the reference?

3 0 Reply
Michael Walker 02 January 2020

Carl Sandburg mastered both poetry and prose, something to do with him being a journalist. I find him very readable.

6 2 Reply
Michael Walker 02 January 2020

Thanks for your agreement Chuck. Not often someone agrees with me.

6 2 Reply
Chuck Isner 10 November 2019

I must agree with Michael Walker: Sandburg is still underrated. I fell in love with Sandberg at 17 when my dad recited the first stanza of Chicago to me from memory. He had memorized it about 30 years earlier in high school. He also won a Pulitzer Prize for his 3 volume biography about Abraham Lincoln. The beauty of his prose, in my opinion, is how the poet shows through on every page. His skill in using just the right word to express his ideas was beyond brilliant.

7 1 Reply
Michael Walker 28 October 2019

I think that Carl Sandburg is still underrated, compared to other American poets. His thoughts roam freely, impelled by a vivid imagination. In such a large number of poems, some are much better than others, as you would expect.

7 4 Reply

Carl Sandburg Quotes

Slang is a language that rolls up its sleeves, spits on its hands and goes to work.

Ordering a man to write a poem is like commanding a pregnant woman to give birth to a red-headed child.

The mammoth rests between his cyclonic dramas.

Sometime they'll give a war and nobody will come.

The sea speaks a language polite people never repeat. It is a colossal scavenger slang and has no respect.

Poetry is an echo, asking a shadow to dance.

Carl Sandburg Popularity

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