Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Carl Sandburg: January 6, 1878--July 22, 1967

I'm prejudiced here. I was born and raised (mostly) in Chicago, so Sandburg naturally was one I looked into when I first began reading poetry. He didn't get all of Chicago into his poetry, but he got more than anybody else I've read.

One of my favorite poems by Carl Sandburg.


The fog comes
on little cat feet.

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

I have a cat and it's mostly grey. It frequently reminds me of Sandburg's poem.

I haven't read anything by Sandburg in many years now. Perhaps it's time to renew an old acquaintance.

Do you want to mention a favorite poem by Sandburg?


  1. I've liked Sandburg since high school. For years I've had some old photocopies of favourite poems stuffed into a pocket of my carry-on bag, and one of them is Sandburg's 'Cool Tombs' (which you can see about 2/3 of the way down this page: -- I know there there are more popular sites with Sandburg's poems, but that's one of the few sites where you won't find his poems under ugly commercials depicting yellowing teeth or obese bellies).

    Also, last Remembrance Day (Veteran's Day in the US I think) I posted on my blog Sandburg's poem called 'Grass'. I believe he wrote that poem before the US entered WWI, and yet he refers to WWI battles (Ypres and Verdun) along with Gettysburg and some clashes from the Napoleonic Wars. That poem has the effect of bumping one out of the heat and passion of the moment -- in which today's conflict can seem totally different from, and easier to justify than, past wars -- in order to expose the latest battles in the longer time frame of relentless, dispassionate nature, burying and forgetting the tragic sacrifices of the latest, futile war.

    'Grass' (without ugly teeth & bellies) is at

  2. praymont,

    Yes, "Grass" does take one out of the heat of the moment and at the same time asks questions about whatever conflict is going on presently.

    I posted "Grass" here on a blog dated December 7, 2009, which had nothing to do with Pearl Harbor. It was in a post titled "The Rubaiyat: Quatrain XIX." Or, if you wish to see it, go to the labels column at the right of the screen and click on "grass."

    Thanks for the addresses. I'll check them out.

  3. When I was a young student in a composition course, the teacher assigned an explication of Sandburg's "Chicago". My high-pitched enthusiasm for the poem was quickly diluted by the horrible grade I received on the explication; my grammar and punctuation were graded harshly, and I somehow transferred my negative feelings about the grade onto the poet and his poem. Perhaps it is time (long overdue) that I forgive Sandburg, more properly blame myself (and the overly severe composition teacher), and give the author of "Chicago" another chance.

  4. R. T.,

    I hope your second visit to Sandburg will be more enjoyable than the first.