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Sandburg, Carl. (1878 - 1967).

W o r k

< influenced by W. Whitman:

(a) rejected the genteel tradition in favour of free verse and a long open line

(b) the poet of the people: celebrated the vigorous, even violent common working-class men

- attempted to regenerate the native language of the nation

- collected folksongs: toured the country, read and sang the songs, accompanied himself on guitar, and interspersed his performances with a homespun philosophy

- his lifetime: criticized by E. Pound and R. Frost for his artlessness and lack of culture as ‘one of the roughs’ x now: valued for his part on the modernist revolution, and for the real power, vigour, and freshness of some individual poems

(a) Whitmanian Poems – “Chicago”: celebrates the industrial, fast-paced, and cruel Chicago (= the "Hog Butcher for the World") and the poor teeming in its streets x criticises capitalism

(b) Imagist Poems – “Fog”: juxtaposes images to represent the immediacy of reality

(c) Poems of Social Protest – “Graceland”

Chicago Poems (1914, 1916):

- 1st published in H. Monro’s Poetry

Smoke and Steel (1920)

The People, Yes (1936)

A l s o  W r o t e :

- a 6-volume biography of A. Lincoln: won him the Pulitzer Prize for history and made him a celebrated public figure

- children poetry and stories, collections of folk-songs, non-fiction


"I am the people -- the mob -- the crowd -- the mass. / Do you know that all the great work of the world is done through me"?

From "I am the People, the Mob" in Chicago Poems (1916).


(Photo: Al Ravenna. 1955. Source: Wikipedia).

  • Author

    Carl Sandburg. (1878 - 1967). American.
  • Work

    Poet. Biographer. Author of Chicago Poems (1914).
  • Genres

    Modernism. Imagism. Free verse.


Baym, Nina, ed. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. New York: W. W. Norton, 1995.

Bercovitch, Sacvan, ed. The Cambridge History of American  Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

Cunliffe, Marcus. The Literature of the United States. London: Penguin, 1991.

Lauter, Paul, ed. The Heath Anthology of American Literature. Lexington: D. C. Heath, 1994.

McQuade, Donald, gen.ed. The Harper American Literature. New York: Harper & Collins, 1996.

Ruland, Richard, Malcolm Bradbury. Od  puritanismu k postmodernismu. Praha: Mladá fronta, 1997.

Vančura, Zdeněk, ed. Slovník spisovatelů: Spojené státy americké. Praha: Odeon, 1979.


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