Cover image for Poems for the people
Poems for the people
Sandburg, Carl, 1878-1967.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Chicago : I.R. Dee, 1999.
Physical Description:
vii, 184 pages ; 22 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3537.A618 A6 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
PS3537.A618 A6 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Seventy-three poems from Sandburg's early years in Chicago, almost all of them never before in print. They show him as a critic of fast-changing conditions in urban America; a walker in the city; a sensitive poet born to immigrant parents. These poems are a reminder of why we revere Sandburg as an authentic American voice. Edited with an Introduction by George and Willene Hendrick, Sandburg's most accomplished interpreters. An absolutely exhilarating read...a genuine literary event, a virtual rediscovery of an American treasure. Michael Van Walleghen"

Author Notes

The son of Swedish immigrants, Sandburg was born in Galesburg, Illinois. At age 13 he left school to roam the Midwest; he remained on the road for six years, working as a day laborer. Sandburg served in the Spanish-American War and then, from 1898 to 1902, attended Lombard College in Galesburg. After college, he went to Milwaukee, where he worked as a journalist; he also married Lillian Steichen there in 1908. During World War I, he served as a foreign correspondent in Stockholm; after the war he returned to Chicago and continued to write about America, especially the common people. Sandburg's first poems to gain wide recognition appeared in Poetry magazine in 1914. Two years later he published his Chicago Poems (1916), and Cornhuskers appeared in 1918. Meanwhile, Sandburg set out to become an authority on Abraham Lincoln (see Vol. 3). His exhaustive biography of the president, which took many years to complete, appeared as Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years (2 vols., 1926) and Abraham Lincoln: The War Years (4 vols., 1939), which won a Pulitzer Prize. Sandburg's poetry is untraditional in form. Drawing on Whitman as well as the imagists, its rhymeless and unmetered cadences reflect Midwestern speech, and its diction ranges from strong rhetoric to easygoing slang. Although he often wrote about the uncouth, the muscular, and the primitive, there was a pity and loving kindness that was a primary motive for his poetry. At Sandburg's death, Mark Van Doren, Archibald MacLeish, and President Lyndon Johnson delivered eulogies. In his tribute, President Johnson said that "Carl Sandburg was more than the voice of America, more than the poet of its strength and genius. He was America. . . . He gave us the truest and most enduring vision of our own greatness." The N.Y. Times described Sandburg as "poet, newspaper man, historian, wandering minstrel, collector of folk songs, spinner of tales for children, [whose] place in American letters is not easily categorized. But it is a niche that he has made uniquely his own." Sandburg was the labor laureate of the United States. Sandburg received the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1951 for his Complete Poems (1950). Among his many other awards were the gold medal for history and biography (1952) from the American Academy of Arts and Letters; the Poetry Society of America's gold medal (1953) for distinguished achievement; and the Boston Arts Festival Award (1955) in recognition of "continuous meritorious contribution to the art of American poetry." In 1959 he traveled under the auspices of the Department of State to the U.S. Trade Fair in Moscow, and to Stockholm, Paris, and London. In 1960 he received a citation from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as a great living American for the "significant and lasting contribution which he has made to American literature." (Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Booklist Review

The 73 previously uncollected Sandburg poems that George and Willene Hendrick offer here are weaker than anything in their revisionary Selected Poems (1996) of Sandburg. Thanks to their unpretentious commentary, however, the 73 become windows further revealing a fascinating, archetypal American. The son of humble Swedish immigrants, Sandburg started working at 13 yet managed, after hoboing and going to war (the Spanish-American), to attend college and become a famous author, folksinger, and lecturer. He began writing poetry in the 1910s, when he was a radical socialist, a stance he modified in the wake of the second Wilson administration's severe persecution of the Left. Since most of these poems date from that time, and since several were withheld from earlier publication because of their fervor, they give us Sandburg-as-radical straight. Never much of a Marxist, Sandburg very appealingly railed against political lying and greedy, brutal capitalists. The few later selections show that he never lost his populist sympathies; especially gratifying in this respect is a good smack at the academic cult of Henry James. --Ray Olson

Table of Contents

Introductionp. 3
Don MacGregorp. 21
Don MacGregor's Cursep. 30
Memoir of a Proud Boyp. 31
Images and Colorsp. 35
Moon Dancep. 39
Sundayp. 40
Wingsp. 41
Li Po and Lao Tse Come to Nebraskap. 42
Fire Flowersp. 43
Chicagop. 45
[Two-Dollars-a-Day Wop]p. 52
Crayonp. 53
[Wilderness Man]p. 54
Speed Bugp. 55
Selling Spiel [on Maxwell Street]p. 56
Good Womanp. 57
Now You Take Herp. 58
Bonbonsp. 59
The Lower Registerp. 60
Studio Saturday Afternoonp. 61
A Long Shotp. 62
Young Womanp. 63
Sandburg to Loebp. 65
Sense and Nonsensep. 67
The Fleas of Flandersp. 71
The Pie-Wagon Driverp. 73
[Lullaby]p. 75
An Indian Legendp. 77
[Pass This Baby On]p. 80
Character Studies and Personalitiesp. 81
Terry Hutp. 84
Daniel Boonep. 85
Theodosia Burrp. 86
Alice and Phoebe Caryp. 87
Elbert Hubbardp. 88
[Davvy Tipton]p. 89
Socratesp. 90
Stephen Cranep. 92
Who Was Hannah Adams?p. 93
[Tom Edison]p. 94
John James Audubonp. 95
Stephen Pearl Andrewsp. 96
Iron Jawp. 97
Protest Poemsp. 99
Billy Sundayp. 104
Both Waysp. 107
[Finger Pointer]p. 108
[Wreck a Bank]p. 109
[Portrait of a Lady]p. 110
A Talk with Godp. 112
Quotesp. 113
On Account of This Is a Free Countryp. 114
Nature Poemsp. 117
The Last Starp. 120
Firesp. 121
Februaryp. 122
Octoberp. 123
November Nocturnep. 124
Literary and Movie Criticismp. 125
[He Sez / I Sez]p. 129
Good and Bad Poetsp. 130
[Henry James]p. 131
Successful Filmsp. 135
African-Americansp. 137
[A Goner]p. 141
[Love or Cheap Love]p. 142
John Arthur Johnsonp. 143
World War Ip. 145
May, 1915p. 149
[Lilacs of 1917]p. 150
Christmas Cartoon, 1917p. 151
Everybody in Town Has Been Drillin' and Drillin' for the Big Paradep. 152
The Woman on the Billboardsp. 154
Ruminationsp. 155
Acknowledgmentsp. 160
Climbersp. 162
Pigeonsp. 163
Two Shapes in Grayp. 164
Two Girls and a Fatherp. 165
Palooka and Champp. 166
Green Hairp. 167
Mulligatawneyp. 169
Mutt Bornp. 170
[Walt Whitman]p. 171
Toward The People, Yesp. 173
They Don't Know It Yetp. 176
Works Cited in the Introduction and Commentaryp. 179
Index to the Introduction and Commentaryp. 181