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Carl Sandburg (Carl August Sandburg) Biography

(1878–1967), (Carl August Sandburg), Chicago Daily News, In Reckless Ecstasy, The Plaint of a Rose, Poetry

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American poet, born in Galesburg, Illinois; he left school at 13 and spent several years travelling before serving in the Spanish-American War. After study at Lombard College, Galesburg, in 1902 he became a reporter and was on the staff of the Chicago Daily News from 1917 to 1930. In Reckless Ecstasy (1904) and The Plaint of a Rose (1905) contained lyrically sentimental poems he discounted in preparing future collections of his work. He was politically active while living in Milwaukee, where he was secretary to the first socialist mayor from 1910 to 1912. The political sympathies informing his poetry are apparent in the vigorously democratic affirmation of ‘Chicago’, which appeared in the March issue of Poetry in 1914. With the publication of Chicago Poems (1916) and Cornhuskers (1918), he gained wide notice as a radically new voice in American poetry, extending the achievement of Whitman, whose sweeping verse forms his own resembled, to emphatically contemporary treatments of urban subjects. Smoke and Steel (1920), an incantational celebration of industrial endeavour, was followed by his optimistic envisionings of America's enormous human and natural resources in Slabs of the Sunburnt West (1922) and Good Morning, America (1928); the latter's expansive panorama of American life set the pattern for his ambitious populist epic entitled The People, Yes (1936), which declared his belief in the ultimate indomitability of America's common humanity. In 1919 Sandburg began working on his biography of Abraham Lincoln, whom he regarded as a heroic embodiment of the American ideal: The Prairie Years (2 volumes, 1926) was followed by The War Years (4 volumes, 1939), which received the Pulitzer Prize for History. His later collections of poetry include The Sandburg Range (1957) and Honey and Salt (1963); Complete Poems appeared in 1970. Among his other publications are the highly regarded body of children's stories in his Rootabaga volumes (1922, 1923), the novel Remembrance Rock (1948), which chronicles three centuries of American history, and Always the Young Stranger (1952), his autobiography of his earlier years. North Callahan's Carl Sandburg: His Life and Works (1987) is the most detailed of several biographies.

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