The beloved poet, Carl Sandburg, changed the course of American poetry.
He was a poet, novelist, journalist, and songwriter, yet the influence of his
works have not always been acknowledged. Carl Sandburg's evocations of American
urban and rural life, compassion for people, and his love of nature, through his
works have made an enormous contribution to the American literary scene.
Carl Sandburg was born on January 6, 1878 to illiterate parents of
Swedish decent in Galesburg, Illinois. Much of Sandburg's literary works are a
result of his life time observations. He, more generously than many of his
fellow authors, left a detailed account of his wanderings, his numerous jobs,
his early struggles, and his successes in life. His own life fascinated
him.(Rogers 19) Therefore, he felt he wanted to share his fascination with the
people he enjoyed writing about.
Carl Sandburg is so greatly remembered because his writing was
considerably different from the writing of his contemporaries. He let his mind
travel, and be free. His works included the use of free verse, colloquialisms,
an original type of rhythm, and oddly structured, prosaic poetry that emphasized
key phrases and images.(clc 35, 338) Sandburg was the first of a long line of
poets and authors to use the words and phrases that he created in his poetry.
Sandburg's style of writing is what changed the course of American
poetry. Before Sandburg, most poetry and other literary works were considerably
similar, along with dull and boring. He carried poetry to "new horizons." He,
many times, wrote of reality, which was not always what people wanted to read,
but it was reality and it had to be dealt with. This is how his writing became
so known, because he dealt with what was real in our fantasy world.
Sandburg was not afraid to express his true feelings and thought on
people, society, nature, and life in general. One of his finest poetic
achievements is a poem called The People, Yes. It is a poem about people in
life, and everything life entails. The images in it range from a white man and
an Indian man arguing over who knows more, to why children put beans in their
ears when told not to. The People, Yes covers everyday dilemmas encountered by
the common man, but have not been expressed, and it is mandated by none other
than Carl Sandburg, the great American poet.
"The people is a myth, an abstraction.
And what myth would you put in place of the people?
And what abstraction would you exchange for this one?
And when has creative man not toiled deep in myth?
And who fights for a bellyful only and where is any nameworth
remembering for anything else than the human abstraction
woven through it with in visible things?
"Precisely who and what is the people?"
Sandburg was what some might call obsessed with people, but in a
positive way. He was amazed, and at the same time also disgusted with, all the
diverse types of people who live in our society. The quote above is from his
poem, The People, Yes. The poem's expressions of love, hatred, happiness, and
sorrow is based upon the questions in life that are answered by the people. Why
are people such a puzzle? Why don't the rich and the poor get along? Is there
a way to describe and figure people out?...who knows? The answer is no one, not
even Carl Sandburg, but he was the man who was able to express these thoughts in
a poetic form, because he was so greatly interested with the people and their
ways of life.
When Sandburg's poems were made public, people had many different views
on his writing. Some people really enjoyed it, others hated it, and others felt
as if it was decent writing that you could read with a dispassionate feeling.
His poems, mainly The People, Yes, were rejected just as much as they was
William Rose Benet, a critic, states "[of Sandburg's writing]...it has
not enough cohesion. It has not enough structure....it does not think through,
as does the modern radical economist, the situation in which modern civilization
finds itself. Sandburg is too interested in the half-tones of humanity, the
highlights of humor, the terse queerness. He is interested in atmosphere....The
new sapience, it seems to me, is what Sandburg fails to show."(clc 35,347) Now,
on the other hand Amy Lowell, another critic, has a complete opposite view on
the poem's by Carl Sandburg. "The seeing eye- Mr. Sandburg has it to a
superlative degree, and wedded to it, an imaginative utterance which owes
nothing whatever to literature or tradition. It is a fascinating and baffling
study this of examining how Mr. Sandburg does it....It is, more than anything
else, the sharp, surprising rightness of his descriptions which gives Mr.
Sandburg his high position in the poetry of today."(clc 35,341)
These critics views are on the extreme opposite sides of the scale.
Benet feels Sandburg's poetry is uncohesive, unstructured, and just not sapient.
While Lowell feels his poetry is imaginative and fascinating, along with
baffling. If Sandburg were alive to read the analysis of his poetry by the
critics, he probably would have writing a poem about it. It would have
fascinated him, how two ...
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