Carl Sandburg

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Life is nothing but a competition to be the criminal rather than the victim.
Bertrand Russell
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Carl Sandburg (January 6, 1878 – July 22, 1967) was an American poet, historian, novelist, balladeer and folklorist.


  • Under the summer roses
    When the flagrant crimson
    Lurks in the dusk
    Of the wild red leaves,
    Love, with little hands,
    Comes and touches you
    With a thousand memories,
    And asks you
    Beautiful, unanswerable questions.
    • Under the Harvest Moon [1916]
  • I am the people - the mob - the crowd - the mass.
    Do you know that all the great work of the world is done through me?
    • I Am the People, the Mob [1916]
  • Hog Butcher for the World,
    Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
    Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler;
    Stormy, husky, brawling,
    City of the Big Shoulders.
    • Chicago [1916]
  • The fog comes
    on little cat feet.
    It sits looking
    over the harbor and city
    on silent haunches, and then moves on.
    • Fog [1916]
  • Pile the bodies high at Austerlitz and Waterloo.
    Shovel them under and let me work -
    I am the grass; I cover all.

    And pile them high at Gettysburg
    And pile them high at Ypres and Verdun.

    Two years, ten years, and passengers ask the conductor:
    What place is this?
    Where are we now?
    • Grass [1918]
  • I tell you the past is a bucket of ashes.
    • Prairie [1918]
  • When Abraham Lincoln was shoveled into
    the tombs, he forgot the copperheads and
    the the dust, in the cool tombs.
    • Cool Tombs [1918]
  • Tell me if the lovers are losers...tell me if any get more than the lovers.
    • Cool Tombs [1918]
  • Lay me on an anvil, O God.
    Beat me and hammer me into a crowbar.
    Let me pry loose old walls.
    Let me lift and loosen old foundations.
    • Prayers of Steel [1920]
  • Drum on your drums, batter on your banjos,
    sob on the long cool winding saxophones.
    Go to it, O jazzmen.
    • Jazz Fantasia [1920]
  • The republic is a dream.
    Nothing happens unless first a dream.
    • Washington Monument by Night [1922]
  • Look out how you use proud words.
    When you let proud words go, it is not easy to call them back.
    They wear long boots, hard boots.
    • Primer Lessons [1922]
  • The little girl saw her first troop parade and asked,
    "What are those?"
    "What are soldiers?"
    "They are for war. They fight and each tries to kill as many of the other side as he can."
    The girl held still and studied.
    "Do you know ... I know something?"
    "Yes, what is it you know?"
    "Sometime they'll give a war and nobody will come."
    • The People, Yes [1936]
  • The people will live on.
    The learning and blundering people will live on.
    They will be tricked and sold and again sold.
    And go back to the nourishing earth for rootholds.
    • The People, Yes [1936]
  • The people know the salt of the sea
    and the strength of the winds
    lashing the corners of the earth.
    The people take the earth
    as a tomb of rest and a cradle of hope.
    Who else speaks for the Family of Man?
    • The People, Yes [1936]
  • Man is a long time coming.
    Man will yet win.
    Brother may yet line up with brother:
    This old anvil laughs at many broken hammers.
    There are men who can't be bought.
    • The People Will Live On [1936]


  • "Some people write about hell but have never seen it. But I write about Chicago after seeing it over and over again."
  • "Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you."
  • "I'm an idealist. I don't know where I'm going, but I'm on my way."
  • "I am an idealist. I believe in everything - I am only looking for proofs."
  • The time for action is now. It's never too late to do something."
  • "A baby is God's opinion that life should go on."
  • "One of the greatest necessities in America is to discover creative solitude."
  • "The greatest cunning is to have none at all."
  • "Nothing happens unless first we dream."
  • "I never made a mistake in grammar but one in my life and as soon as I done it I seen it."

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