Carl Sandburg

Carl Sandburg (1878 - 1967)

Author-poet Carl Sandburg was born in the three-room cottage at 313 East Third Street in Galesburg on January 6, 1878. The modest house, which is maintained by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, reflects the typical living conditions of a late nineteenth century working-class family. Many of the furnishings once belonged to the Sandburg family. Behind the home stands a small wooded park. There, beneath Remembrance Rock, lie the ashes of Carl Sandburg, who died in 1967.

Early Years

Carl August Sandburg was born the son of Swedish immigrants August and Clara Anderson Sandburg. The
elder Sandburg, a blacksmith’s helper for the nearby Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad, purchased the cottage in 1873. Carl, called “Charlie” by the family, was born the second of seven children in 1878. A year later the Sandburgs sold the small cottage in favor of a larger house in Galesburg.

Carl Sandburg worked from the time he was a young boy. He quit school following his graduation from eighth grade in 1891 and spent a decade working a variety of jobs. He delivered milk, harvested ice, laid bricks, threshed wheat in Kansas, and shined shoes in Galesburg’s Union Hotel before traveling as a hobo in 1897.

His experiences working and traveling greatly influenced his writing and political views. As a hobo he learned a number of folk songs, which he later performed at speaking engagements. He saw first-hand the sharp contrast between rich and poor, a dichotomy that instilled in him a distrust of capitalism.

When the Spanish-American War broke out in 1898 Sandburg volunteered for service, and at the age of twenty was ordered to Puerto Rico, where he spent days battling only heat and mosquitoes. Upon his return to his hometown later that year, he entered Lombard College, supporting himself as a call fireman.

Sandburg’s college years shaped his literary talents and political views. While at Lombard, Sandburg joined the Poor Writers’ Club, an informal literary organization whose members met to read and criticize poetry. Poor Writers’ founder, Lombard professor Phillip Green Wright, a talented scholar and political liberal, encouraged the talented young Sandburg.

Writer, Political Organizer, Reporter

Sandburg honed his writing skills and adopted the socialist views of his mentor before leaving school in his senior year. Sandburg sold stereoscope views and wrote poetry for two years before his first book of verse, In Reckless Ecstasy, was printed on Wright’s basement press in 1904. Wright printed two more volumes for Sandburg, Incidentals (1907) and The Plaint of a Rose (1908).

As the first decade of the century wore on, Sandburg grew increasingly concerned with the plight of the American worker. In 1907 he worked as an organizer for the Wisconsin Social Democratic party, writing and distributing political pamphlets and literature. At party headquarters in Milwaukee, Sandburg met Lilian Steichen, whom he married in 1908.

The responsibilities of marriage and family prompted a career change. Sandburg returned to Illinois and took up journalism. For several years he worked as a reporter for the Chicago Daily News, covering mostly labor issues and later writing his own feature.

Internationally Recognized Author

Sandburg was virtually unknown to the literary world when, in 1914, a group of his poems appeared in the nationally circulated Poetry magazine. Two years later his book Chicago Poems was published, and the thirty-eight-year-old author found himself on the brink of a career that would bring him international acclaim. Sandburg published another volume of poems, Cornhuskers, in 1918, and wrote a searching analysis of the 1919 Chicago race riots.

More poetry followed, along with Rootabaga Stories (1922), a book of fanciful children’s tales. That book prompted Sandburg’s publisher, Alfred Harcourt, to suggest a biography of Abraham Lincoln for children. Sandburg researched and wrote for three years, producing not a children’s book, but a two-volume biography for adults. His Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years,  published in 1926, was Sandburg’s first financial success. He moved to a new home on the Michigan dunes and devoted the next several years to completing four additional volumes, Abraham Lincoln: The War Years, for which he won the Pulitzer Prize in 1940. Sandburg continued his prolific writing, publishing more poems, a novel, Remembrance Rock, a second volume of folk songs, and an autobiography, Always the Young Strangers. In 1945 the Sandburgs moved with their herd of prize-winning goats and thousands of books to Flat Rock, North Carolina. Sandburg’s Complete Poems won him a second Pulitzer Prize in 1951.
Sandburg died at his North Carolina home July 22, 1967. His ashes were returned, as he had requested, to his Galesburg birthplace. In the small Carl Sandburg Park behind the house, his ashes were placed beneath Remembrance Rock, a red granite boulder. Ten years later the ashes of his wife were placed there.

Poems By Carl Sandburg

Chicago Poems

Chicago Poems

1. Chicago (48 Comments »)
2. Sketch (3 Comments »)
3. Masses (No Comments »)
4. Lost (10 Comments »)
5. The Harbor (5 Comments »)
6. They Will Say (No Comments »)
7. Mill-Doors (2 Comments »)
8. Halsted Street Car (1 Comment »)
9. Clark Street Bridge (No Comments »)
10. Passers-By (No Comments »)
11. The Walking Man of Rodin (1 Comment »)
12. Subway (4 Comments »)
13. The Shovel Man (2 Comments »)
14. A Teamster’s Farewell (No Comments »)
15. Fish Crier (1 Comment »)
16. Picnic Boat (2 Comments »)
17. Happiness (18 Comments »)
18. Muckers (1 Comment »)
19. Blacklisted (1 Comment »)
20. Graceland (1 Comment »)
21. Child of the Romans (3 Comments »)
22. The Right to Grief (1 Comment »)
23. Mag (4 Comments »)
24. Onion Days (1 Comment »)
25. Population Drifts (1 Comment »)
26. Cripple (2 Comments »)
27. A Fence (3 Comments »)
28. Anna Imroth (No Comments »)
29. Working Girls (1 Comment »)
30. Mamie (No Comments »)
31. Personality (1 Comment »)
32. Cumulatives (No Comments »)
33. To Certain Journeymen (No Comments »)
34. Chamfort (No Comments »)
35. Limited (1 Comment »)
36. The Has-Been (No Comments »)
37. In a Back Alley (No Comments »)
38. A Coin (1 Comment »)
39. Dynamiter (No Comments »)
40. Ice Handler (No Comments »)
41. Jack (No Comments »)
42. Fellow Citizens (No Comments »)
43. Nigger (56 Comments »)
44. Two Neighbors (No Comments »)
45. Style (1 Comment »)
46. To Beachey, 1912 (No Comments »)
47. Under a Hat Rim (1 Comment »)
48. In a Breath (1 Comment »)
49. Bath (2 Comments »)
51. Dunes (No Comments »)
52. On the Way (No Comments »)
53. Ready to Kill (8 Comments »)
54. To a Contemporary Bunkshooter (No Comments »)
55. Skyscraper (4 Comments »)

Fogs and Fires

1. At a Window (No Comments »)
2. Under the Harvest Moon (3 Comments »)
3. The Great Hunt (No Comments »)
4. Monotone (3 Comments »)
5. Joy (3 Comments »)
7. Aztec (No Comments »)
8. Two (No Comments »)
9. Back Yard (No Comments »)
10. On The Breakwater (No Comments »)
12. Pearl Fog (1 Comment »)
13. I Sang (No Comments »)
14. Follies (No Comments »)
15. June (No Comments »)
16. Nocturne In A Deserted Brickyard (1 Comment »)
17. Hydrangeas (No Comments »)
18. Theme In Yellow (1 Comment »)
19. Between Two Hills (No Comments »)
20. Last Answers (No Comments »)
21. Window (No Comments »)
22. Young Sea (4 Comments »)
23. Bones (7 Comments »)
24. Pals (No Comments »)
25. Child (No Comments »)
26. Poppies (No Comments »)
27. Child Moon (3 Comments »)
28. Margaret (1 Comment »)

Handfuls

1. Fog (14 Comments »)
2. Pool (No Comments »)
3. Jan Kubelik (1 Comment »)
4. Choose (1 Comment »)
5. Crimson (No Comments »)
6. Whitelight (1 Comment »)
7. Flux (No Comments »)
8. Kin (1 Comment »)
9. White Shoulders (No Comments »)
10. Losses (No Comments »)
11. Troths (No Comments »)

Other Days (1900-1910)

1. Dreams in the dusk (1 Comment »)
2. Docks (No Comments »)
3. All Day Long (No Comments »)
4. Waiting (2 Comments »)
5. From The Shore (1 Comment »)
6. Uplands In May (No Comments »)
7. Dream Girl (2 Comments »)
8. The Plowboy (No Comments »)
9. Broadway (No Comments »)
10. Old Woman (No Comments »)
11. The Noon Hour (No Comments »)
12. ‘Boes (No Comments »)
13. Under A Telephone Pole (2 Comments »)
14. I Am The People, The Mob (8 Comments »)
15. Government (No Comments »)
16. Languages (5 Comments »)
17. Letters To Dead Imagists (1 Comment »)
18. Sheep (4 Comments »)
19. The Red Son (No Comments »)
20. The Mist (2 Comments »)
21. The Junk Man (9 Comments »)
22. Silver Nails (No Comments »)
23. Gypsy (1 Comment »)

Shadows

1. Poems Done on a Late Night Car (No Comments »)
2. It Is Much (No Comments »)
3. Trafficker (1 Comment »)
4. Harrison Street Court (No Comments »)
5. Soiled Dove (No Comments »)
6. Jungheimer’s (No Comments »)
7. Gone (No Comments »)

The Road and the End

1. The Road and the End (5 Comments »)
2. Choices (1 Comment »)
3. Graves (1 Comment »)
4. Aztec Mask (1 Comment »)
5. Momus (No Comments »)
6. The Answer (No Comments »)
7. To a Dead Man (1 Comment »)
8. Under (No Comments »)
9. A Sphinx (1 Comment »)
10. Who am I? (2 Comments »)
11. Our Prayer of Thanks (2 Comments »)

War Poems (1914-1915)

2. Among the Red Guns (1 Comment »)
3. Iron (4 Comments »)
4. Murmurings in a field hospital (1 Comment »)
5. Statistics (7 Comments »)
6. Fight (1 Comment »)
7. Buttons (6 Comments »)
8. And They Obey (No Comments »)
9. Jaws (No Comments »)
10. Salvage (1 Comment »)
11. Wars (No Comments »)

Cornhuskers

Cornhuskers

1. Prairie (No Comments »)
2. River Roads (1 Comment »)
3. Prairie Waters by Night (No Comments »)
4. Early Moon (No Comments »)
5. Laughing Corn (1 Comment »)
6. Autumn Movement (2 Comments »)
7. Falltime (No Comments »)
8. Illinois Farmer (1 Comment »)
9. Hits and Runs (No Comments »)
10. Village in Late Summer (No Comments »)
11. Blizzard Notes (No Comments »)
12. Sunset From Omaha Hotel Window (No Comments »)
13. Still Life (1 Comment »)
14. Band Concert (No Comments »)
15. Three Pieces on the Smoke of Autumn (No Comments »)
16. Localities (No Comments »)
17. Caboose Thoughts (No Comments »)
18. Alix (No Comments »)
19. Potato Blossom Songs and Jigs (No Comments »)
20. Loam (No Comments »)
21. Manitoba Childe Roland (No Comments »)
22. Wilderness (1 Comment »)

Haunts

2. In Tall Grass (No Comments »)
3. Upstairs (No Comments »)
4. Monosyllabic (No Comments »)
5. Films (No Comments »)
6. Kreisler (1 Comment »)
7. The Sea Hold (No Comments »)
8. Goldwing Moth (No Comments »)
9. Loin Cloth (No Comments »)
10. Hemlock and Cedar (No Comments »)
11. Summer Shirt Sale (No Comments »)
12. Medallion (No Comments »)
13. Bricklayer Love (5 Comments »)
14. Ashurnatsirpal III (No Comments »)
15. Mammy Hums (1 Comment »)
16. Bringers (No Comments »)
17. Crimson Rambler (No Comments »)
18. Haunts (No Comments »)
19. Have Me (1 Comment »)
20. Fire Dreams (No Comments »)
21. Baby Face (No Comments »)
22. The Year (No Comments »)
23. Drumnotes (No Comments »)
24. Moonset (No Comments »)
25. Garden Wireless (No Comments »)
26. Handfuls (No Comments »)
27. Cool Tombs (3 Comments »)

Leather Leggings

1. Leather Leggings (No Comments »)
2. Prayers of Steel (2 Comments »)
3. Always the Mob (No Comments »)
4. Jabberers (No Comments »)
5. Cartoon (No Comments »)
6. Interior (No Comments »)
7. Street Window (2 Comments »)
8. Palladiums (No Comments »)
9. Clocks (No Comments »)
10. Legends (No Comments »)
11. Psalm of Those Who Go Forth Before Daylight (1 Comment »)
12. Horses and Men in Rain (No Comments »)
13. Questionnaire (No Comments »)
14. Near Keokuk (No Comments »)
15. Slants at Buffalo, New York (No Comments »)
16. Flat Lands (No Comments »)
17. Lawyer (No Comments »)
18. Three Balls (No Comments »)
19. Chicks (No Comments »)
20. Humdrum (2 Comments »)
21. Joliet (No Comments »)
22. Knucks (No Comments »)
23. Testament (No Comments »)

Persons Half Known

1. Chicago Poet (1 Comment »)
2. Fire-Logs (No Comments »)
3. Repetitions (No Comments »)
4. Adelaide Crapsey (2 Comments »)
5. Young Bullfrogs (No Comments »)
6. Memoir of a Proud Boy (No Comments »)
7. Bilbea (No Comments »)
8. Southern Pacific (No Comments »)
9. Washerwoman (No Comments »)
10. Portrait of a Motor Car (No Comments »)
11. Girl in a Cage (No Comments »)
12. Buffalo Bill (No Comments »)
13. Sixteen Months (No Comments »)
14. Child Margaret (No Comments »)
15. Singing Nigger (1 Comment »)

Shenandoah

1. Shenandoah (No Comments »)
2. New Feet (No Comments »)
3. Old Osawatomie (No Comments »)
4. Grass (24 Comments »)
5. Flanders (No Comments »)
6. Gargoyle (No Comments »)
7. Old Timers (No Comments »)
8. House (No Comments »)
9. John Ericsson Day Memorial, 1918 (No Comments »)
10. Remembered Women (No Comments »)
11. Out of White Lips (No Comments »)
12. Memoir (No Comments »)
13. A Million Young Workmen, 1915 (No Comments »)
14. Smoke (No Comments »)
15. A Tall Man (No Comments »)
16. The Four Brothers (No Comments »)

Smoke and Steel

I. Smoke Nights

1. Smoke and Steel (No Comments »)
2. Five Towns on the B. & O. (No Comments »)
3. Work Gangs (1 Comment »)
4. Pennsylvania (No Comments »)
5. Whirls (No Comments »)

II. People Who Must

1. People Who Must (No Comments »)
2. Alley Rats (2 Comments »)
3. Eleventh Avenue Racket (No Comments »)
4. Home Fires (1 Comment »)
5. Hats (1 Comment »)
6. They All Want to Play Hamlet (1 Comment »)
7. The Mayor of Gary (No Comments »)
8. Omaha (No Comments »)
9. Galoots (No Comments »)
10. Crabapple Blossoms (No Comments »)
11. Real Estate News (No Comments »)
12. Manual System (No Comments »)
13. Stripes (No Comments »)
14. Honky Tonk in Cleveland, Ohio (3 Comments »)
15. Crapshooters (No Comments »)
16. Soup (4 Comments »)
17. Clinton South of Polk (No Comments »)
18. Blue Island Intersection (No Comments »)
19. Red-headed Restaurant Cashier (1 Comment »)
20. Boy and Father (No Comments »)
21. Clean Curtains (No Comments »)
22. Crimson Changes People (No Comments »)
23. Neighbors (No Comments »)
24. Cahoots (No Comments »)
25. Blue Maroons (No Comments »)
26. The Hangman at Home (2 Comments »)
27. Man, the Man-Hunter (No Comments »)
28. The Sins of Kalamazoo (1 Comment »)

III. Broken-Face Gargoyles

1. Broken-face Gargoyles (No Comments »)
2. Aprons of Silence (No Comments »)
3. Death Snips Proud Men (1 Comment »)
4. Good-night (No Comments »)
5. Shirt (No Comments »)
6. Jazz Fantasia (8 Comments »)
7. Do You Want Affidavits? (No Comments »)
8. Old-fashioned Requited Love (No Comments »)
9. Purple Martins (No Comments »)
10. Brass Keys (2 Comments »)
11. Pick Offs (No Comments »)
12. Manufactured Gods (No Comments »)
13. Mask (No Comments »)

IV. Playthings of the Wind

1. Four Preludes on Playthings of the Wind (12 Comments »)
2. Broken Tabernacles (No Comments »)
3. Ossawatomie (No Comments »)
4. Long Guns (1 Comment »)
5. Dusty Doors (No Comments »)
6. Flash Crimson (1 Comment »)
7. The Lawyers Know Too Much (2 Comments »)
8. Losers (No Comments »)
9. Places (No Comments »)
10. Threes (No Comments »)
11. The Liars (1 Comment »)
12. Prayers After World War (1 Comment »)
13. A. E. F. (No Comments »)
14. Bas-Relief (No Comments »)
15. Carlovingian Dreams (No Comments »)
16. Bronzes (No Comments »)
17. Let Love Go On (No Comments »)
18. Killers (1 Comment »)
19. Clean Hands (No Comments »)
20. Three Ghosts (No Comments »)
21. Pencils (No Comments »)
22. Jug (No Comments »)
23. And This Will be All? (No Comments »)
24. Hoodlums (2 Comments »)
25. Yes, the Dead Speak to Us (No Comments »)

IX. Haze

1. Haze (No Comments »)
2. Cadenza (No Comments »)
3. Memoranda (No Comments »)
4. Potomac Town in February (No Comments »)
5. Buffalo Dusk (1 Comment »)
6. Corn Hut Talk (No Comments »)
7. Branches (No Comments »)
8. Rusty Crimson (No Comments »)
9. Letter S (1 Comment »)
10. Weeds (No Comments »)
11. New Farm Tractor (1 Comment »)
12. Pods (2 Comments »)
13. Harvest Sunset (No Comments »)
14. Nights Nothings Again (1 Comment »)

V. Mist Forms

1. Calls (No Comments »)
2. Sea-Wash (No Comments »)
3. Silver Wind (No Comments »)
4. Evening Waterfall (No Comments »)
5. Crucible (No Comments »)
6. Summer Stars (No Comments »)
7. Throw Roses (No Comments »)
8. Just Before April Came (No Comments »)
9. Stars, Songs, Faces (2 Comments »)
10. Sandpipers (No Comments »)
11. Three Violins (No Comments »)
12. The Wind Sings Welcome in Early Spring (No Comments »)
13. Tawny (No Comments »)
14. Slippery (No Comments »)
15. Helga (No Comments »)
16. Baby Toes (No Comments »)
17. People With Proud Chins (No Comments »)
18. Winter Milk (No Comments »)
19. Sleepyheads (No Comments »)
20. Sumach and Birds (No Comments »)
21. Women Washing Their Hair (No Comments »)
22. Peach Blossoms (No Comments »)
23. Half Moon in a High Wind (No Comments »)
24. Remorse (No Comments »)
25. River Moons (No Comments »)
26. Sand Scribblings (No Comments »)
27. How Yesterday Looked (No Comments »)
28. Paula (No Comments »)
29. Laughing Blue Steel (1 Comment »)
30. They Ask Each Other Where They Came From (No Comments »)
31. How Much? (No Comments »)
32. Throwbacks (No Comments »)
33. Wind Song (2 Comments »)
34. Three Spring Notations on Bipeds (No Comments »)
35. Sandhill People (1 Comment »)
36. Far Rockaway Night till Morning (No Comments »)
37. Humming Bird Woman (2 Comments »)
38. Buckwheat (1 Comment »)
39. Blue Ridge (1 Comment »)
40. Valley Song (No Comments »)
41. Mist Forms (No Comments »)
42. Pigeon (No Comments »)
43. Chasers (No Comments »)
44. Horse Fiddle (No Comments »)
45. Timber Wings (No Comments »)
46. Night Stuff (No Comments »)
47. Spanish (No Comments »)
48. Shagbark Hickory (1 Comment »)
49. The South Wind Say So (1 Comment »)

VI. Accomplished Facts

1. Accomplished Facts (3 Comments »)
2. Grieg Being Dead (No Comments »)
3. Chords (2 Comments »)
4. Dogheads (No Comments »)
5. Trinity Place (No Comments »)
6. Portrait (No Comments »)
7. Potomac River Mist (1 Comment »)
8. Jack London and O. Henry (No Comments »)
9. His Own Face Hidden (1 Comment »)
10. Cups of Coffee (2 Comments »)

VII. Passports

1. Smoke Rose Gold (No Comments »)
2. Tangibles (No Comments »)
3. Night Movement—New York (No Comments »)
4. North Atlantic (No Comments »)
5. Fog Portrait (No Comments »)
6. Flying Fish (No Comments »)
7. Home Thoughts (1 Comment »)
8. In the Shadow of the Palace (No Comments »)
9. Two Items (No Comments »)
10. Streets Too Old (No Comments »)
11. Savoir Faire (No Comments »)
12. Mohammed Bek Hadjetlache (No Comments »)
13. High Conspiratorial Person (No Comments »)
14. Baltic Fog Notes (No Comments »)

VIII. Circles of Doors

1. Circles of Doors (No Comments »)
2. Hate (3 Comments »)
3. Two Strangers Breakfast (No Comments »)
4. Snow (No Comments »)
5. Dancer (No Comments »)
6. Plaster (No Comments »)
7. Curse of a Rich Polish Peasant on His Sister Who Ran Away With a Wild Man (No Comments »)
8. Woman with a Past (No Comments »)
9. White Hands (1 Comment »)
10. An Electric Sign Goes Dark (No Comments »)
11. They Buy With an Eye to Looks (1 Comment »)
12. Proud and Beautiful (No Comments »)
13. Telegram (No Comments »)
14. Glimmer (1 Comment »)
15. White Ash (No Comments »)
16. Testimony Regarding a Ghost (1 Comment »)
17. Put Off the Wedding Five Times and Nobody Comes to It (No Comments »)
18. Baby Vamps (No Comments »)
19. Vaudeville Dancer (No Comments »)
20. Balloon Faces (No Comments »)

X. Panels

1. Panels (No Comments »)
2. Dan (No Comments »)
3. Whiffletree (No Comments »)
4. Mascots (No Comments »)
5. The Skyscraper Loves Night (No Comments »)
6. Never Born (No Comments »)
7. Thin Strips (No Comments »)
8. Five Cent Balloons (No Comments »)
9. My People (1 Comment »)
10. Swirl (1 Comment »)
11. Wistful (No Comments »)
12. Basket (1 Comment »)
13. Fire Pages (1 Comment »)
14. Finish (2 Comments »)
15. For You (2 Comments »)
Analysis, meaning and summary of Carl Sandburg's poem For You

2 Comments

  1. Paul Chapman says:

    Since 40 years I have held this poem in my heart as a rich blessing founded on a dear memory

  2. JUDITH MARLIN says:

    THIS WRITING BY CARL SANDBURG OFFERS ITS READERS A FEELING OF READING A MAN WHOSE INTEREST WERE NEVER PROVIDED BUT EARNED.

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