Carl Sandburg: Poems Background

Carl Sandburg: Poems Background

Carl Sandburg was a renowned and celebrated American poet. He was born in 1878 to Swedish parents in Illinois. At the age of 13, he left formal schooling to help support his family, working as a milkman, a porter and a bricklayer. He later moved to Chicago where he began writing for the Chicago Daily News. Chicago would figure heavily as a setting for much of his later work. He published his first collection of poetry in 1904. The subject matter reflected his humble background and working class young adulthood. He continued to write both poetry and prose prolifically throughout his life.

In 1916, Sandburg published among his most famed work in the collection Chicago Poems. In 1919 he won his first Pulitzer Prize with the collection Cornhuskers in 1919. He won another in 1940 and a third in 1951, making him among the most awarded American poets. With his distinctly American perspective, Sandburg also dedicated his attention to the study of a fellow Illinois legend, Abraham Lincoln, for which he won his second Pulitzer. At the time of his death in 1967, President Lyndon B. Johnson noted that Sandburg "was more than the voice of America... He was America."

The Complete Poems of Carl Sanburg was first in 1969, two years after his death. It features all of his previously published poetry collections, including Chicago Poems and Cornhuskers. The expansive compendium allows the reader to discover Sandburg's evolution as a writer and thinker. At the same time, the constant themes of rustic American life, Chicago, and blue collar work are throughout.

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