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Carl Sandburg: Selected Poems (American Poets Project) Hardcover – Bargain Price, October 5, 2006
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From the Inside Flap
When Illinois-born Carl Sandburg was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1951, it was the crowning achievement of his nearly half century career as a poet. At the time he was one of America's most popular living poets. His work embodied the American experience and spoke deeply to the hearts of the very people who inspired his greatest poems. For them, Sandburg symbolized America's innate integrity and boundless promise.
This volume contains the poems upon which Sandburg built his reputation and career. The four poems selected from his rarely reprinted first collection, "In Reckless Ecstasy, provide a fascinating glimpse into his developing talent. They show him slowly breaking free of traditional verse forms toward his own voice.
This book features a deluxe cover, ribbon marker, top stain, and decorative endpapers with nameplates. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
About the Author
Paul Berman is a writer in residence at New York University and the author of Terror and Liberalism and Power and the Idealists. His essays on poets and poetry have appeared in The Nation, The New Republic, The New York Times Book Review, The New Yorker, Parnassus, and elsewhere.
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Top customer reviews
Almost no one younger than fifty can remember how popular he was. He won a Pulitzer Prize for his final four volumes of the six volume biography of Lincoln in 1940. This massive biography is an apt example of Sandburg's changing career. The ordinary folks loved it, and once they did the sophisticates and scholars couldn't demean it enough, but this rejection came later. He won a second Pulitzer for his collected poems in "The Complete Poems" in 1951. The radio loved his old fashioned style of reading poetry almost as a song and later he added a guitar to his readings and was popular on TV.
His brand of American Nationalism grew less popular in the mid-1960s and after he died in mid-1967, the rabid anti-War movement rejected all such patriotism as a kind of jingoism that was not acceptable to the young. Sandburg's reputation faded from that time. He is still fondly remembered by many, but not a cultural icon as he once was.
In his younger years he was a socialist, such as American Socialism was in those early years of the last century. He helped organize workers, worked at socialist publications where many of his poems appeared. However, as the socialist movement became more radical, he did not go with them. The common man and woman with their ordinary lives of work, toil, hopes, suffering, entertainments, loves, violence, and their massive and anonymous contribution to our nation's wealth and social order were his focus and his muse.
This wonderful volume contains selections from those volumes focuses on those early decades. Some of the poems I find magical and they still retain much power. "Skyscraper" (pg 19) seems one of the finer poems to me. Of course, there the famous - almost brand name - poems such as "Chicago" with its "Hog Butcher for the World" and "City of the Big Shoulders". And the not always well received "The People, Yes!"
He also has poems as a kind of epitaph for the famous of his day that had passed. You will probably need to search the web for the names to know who many of them were. Remember, when he wrote these poems, they were commenting on contemporary society. For us, it is a passed age. Nothing ages faster than the modern. A few of the poems are almost like haiku (I wonder if it was deliberate) and one sounds almost Nietzschean. "The Hammer" from 1910 on pg 132 could have come from the pages of "Twilight of the Idols".
Poems take time to read, so even a slim volume such as this requires some time. Not because it is hard to read, or because you can't zip through it, but because poems require time to resonate. The whole point is less to tell you something from the outside as a technical manual would, but to use the words and images in the poem to resonate with what is in you. It is the resonance and the kinds of emotional harmonics it sounds out in you that create the music of the poem and from which it derives its power and worth to generations. Works of art, especially the great works, are really not available for people to judge them in terms of final worth. Rather, the works of art judge us by how we judge them. What we are able to find in ourselves as we engage the work helps us see what it is we have within us, or what we lack.
The volume begins with a fine essay on Sandburg by the editor, Paul Berman. Rather than compare Sandburg with Robert Frost (the two seem paired by fate and are often confused), he spends his time showing the connection and contrast between Sandburg and Ezra Pound. After the poems there is a short biographical note and a note on the text.
Recommended. This volume is yet another example of why we owe the great Library of America our support and gratitude.