Carl Sandburg

Carl Sandburg


1/6/1878, Galesburg, Illinois, USA



Birth Name

Carl August Sandburg



Also Known As

Charles Sandburg
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Carl Sandburg was a successful journalist, poet, historian, biographer, and autobiographer. During the course of his career, Sandburg won two Pulitzer Prizes, one for his biography of Abraham Lincoln (Abraham Lincoln: The War Years) and one for his collection The Complete Poems of Carl Sandburg.


Trivia and Quotes

  • Trivia

  • Quotes

    • Carl: You remember some bedrooms you have slept in. There are bedrooms you like to remember and others you would like to forget.

    • Carl: You could mail a copy of Incidentals in an ordinary letter envelope, it was that small a book.

    • Carl: Where was I going? I puzzled and wondered about it til I actually enjoyed the puzzlement and wondering.

    • Carl: When no college events or odd jobs were doing, I worked Saturdays, Sundays, and evenings from about 6:30 to 10 o'clock.

    • Carl: When I was writing pretty poor poetry, this girl with midnight black hair told me to go on.

    • Carl: We were very near to being Middle Class though the Old Man was still a blacksmith's helper.

    • Carl: We read Robert Browning's poetry. Here we needed no guidance from the professor: the poems themselves were enough.

    • Carl: We had two grand antique professors who had been teaching at Lombard since before I was born.

    • Carl: We don't have to think up a title till we get the doggone book written.

    • Carl: Valor is a gift. Those having it never know for sure whether they have it till the test comes. And those having it in one test never know for sure if they will have it when the next test comes.

    • Carl: To work hard, to live hard, to die hard, and then go to hell after all would be too damn hard.

    • Carl: To be a good loser is to learn how to win.

    • Carl: 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.

    • Carl: There was always the consolation that if I didn't like what I wrote I could throw it away or burn it.

    • Carl: There is an eagle in me that wants to soar, and there is a hippopotamus in me that wants to wallow in the mud.

    • Carl: There have been as many varieties of socialists as there are wild birds that fly in the woods and sometimes go up and on through the clouds.

    • Carl: There are 10 men in me and I do not know or understand one of them.

    • Carl: The United States was at peace with the world. The country felt good about it. Little wars sprang up here and there in Europe, Asia, Africa, but it was none of our business.

    • Carl: The secret of happiness is to admire without desiring.

    • Carl: The sea speaks a language polite people never repeat. It is a colossal scavenger slang and has no respect.

    • Carl: The scholars and poets of an earlier time can be read only with a dictionary to help.

    • Carl: The Old Man was thinking of the profit that did come to him from selling the house and lot, but he couldn't have worked the way he did unless he truly enjoyed work for the sake of work itself.

    • Carl: The moon is a friend for the lonesome to talk to.

    • Carl: The greatest cunning is to have none at all.

    • Carl: The girl rated as decent kept away from the powder and rouge. In public a girl's ankle and sometimes calf could be seen only when she was in a gym or swim suit.

    • Carl: The basement had windows lighting the Old Man's workshop and plenty of room for the potatoes and cabbages we raised.

    • Carl: Strange things blow in through my window on the wings of the night wind and I don't worry about my destiny.

    • Carl: Sometime they'll give a war and nobody will come.

    • Carl: Slang is a language that rolls up its sleeves, spits on its hands and goes to work.

    • Carl: Shame is the feeling you have when you agree with the woman who loves you that you are the man she thinks you are.

    • Carl: Professor Kimble could tell of women who served 50 men in a day and night and sent their earnings to children who didn't know where the money came from.

    • Carl: Poetry is the synthesis of hyacinths and biscuits.

    • Carl: Poetry is the opening and closing of a door, leaving those who look through to guess about what is seen during the moment.

    • Carl: Poetry is the journal of the sea animal living on land, wanting to fly in the air. Poetry is a search for syllables to shoot at the barriers of the unknown and the unknowable. Poetry is a phantom script telling how rainbows are made and why they go away.

    • Carl: Poetry is an echo, asking a shadow to dance.

    • Carl: Poetry is a phantom script telling how rainbows are made and why they go away.

    • Carl: Ordering a man to write a poem is like commanding a pregnant woman to give birth to a red-headed child.

    • Carl: One of the greatest necessities in America is to discover creative solitude.

    • Carl: Often I look back and see that I had been many kinds of a fool-and that I had been happy in being this or that kind of fool.

    • Carl: Nothing happens unless first we dream.

    • Carl: Nearly all the best things that came to me in life have been unexpected, unplanned by me.

    • Carl: My room for books and study or for sitting and thinking about nothing in particular to see what would happen was at the end of a hall.

    • Carl: My main lecture was titled, The American Vagabond, which I thought sounded more attractive than just plain, Walt Whitman.

    • Carl: More than one day I read a newspaper from page one on through to the back page, every story. I liked especially the murders, the robberies, the divorces, the political squabbles.

    • Carl: Love your neighbor as yourself, but don't take down the fence.

    • Carl: Lombard was strictly a small college, averaging 150 to 170 students.

    • Carl: Life is like an onion: you peel it off one layer at a time, and sometimes you weep.

    • Carl: Let the gentle bush dig its root deep and spread upward to split the boulder.

    • Carl: Let a joy keep you. Reach out your hands and take it when it runs by.

    • Carl: In zero weather I wore a turtleneck sweater, coat, and overcoat and read and wrote lighted by a lamp.

    • Carl: In these times you have to be an optimist to open your eyes when you awake in the morning.

    • Carl: In order to live, you have to eat, and having eaten, your sex drive sends you into begetting children, reproducing yourself.

    • Carl: If anthropology is the science dealing with man as an animal, at those meetings you could hear man as the animal who can spill and spout language.

    • Carl: I've written some poetry I don't understand myself.

    • Carl: I'm either going to be a writer or a bum.

    • Carl: I'm an idealist. I don't know where I'm going, but I'm on my way.

    • Carl: I wrote poems in my corner of the Brooks Street station. I sent them to two editors who rejected them right off. I read those letters of rejection years later and I agreed with those editors.

    • Carl: I won't take my religion from any man who never works except with his mouth.

    • Carl: I was entering the lecture field myself in a beginning way. I had put out a circular with a dignified picture and testimonials that I was worth hearing.

    • Carl: I was a call man for the fire department. My job most often was to connect with a hydrant and with a wrench turn on the water.

    • Carl: I took to wearing a black tie known as the Ascot, with long drooping ends. I had seen pictures of painters, sculptors, poets, wearing this style of tie.

    • Carl: I tell you the past is a bucket of ashes, so live not in your yesterdays, no just for tomorrow, but in the here and now. Keep moving and forget the post mortems; and remember, no one can get the jump on the future.

    • Carl: I stayed away from mathematics not so much because I knew it would be hard work as because of the amount of time I knew it would take, hours spent in a field where I was not a natural.

    • Carl: I smoked endless pipes of Scraps, the crushed and cheap but pure tobacco leaves.

    • Carl: I never made a mistake in grammar but one in my life and as soon as I done it I seen it.

    • Carl: I make it clear why I write as I do and why other poets write as they do. After hundreds of experiments I decided to go my own way in style and see what would happen.

    • Carl: I made notes with a lead pencil, wrote letters and college papers with a stub steel pen dipped into a bottle of Waterman ink.

    • Carl: I learned you can't trust the judgment of good friends.

    • Carl: I knew I would read all kinds of books and try to get at what it is that makes good writers good. But I made no promises that I would write books a lot of people would like to read.

    • Carl: I have often wondered what it is an old building can do to you when you happen to know a little about things that went on long ago in that building.

    • Carl: I have in later years taken to Euclid, Whitehead, Bertrand Russell, in an elemental way.

    • Carl: I have become infected, now that I see how beautifully a book is coming out of all this.

    • Carl: I have always felt that a woman has the right to treat the subject of her age with ambiguity until, perhaps, she passes into the realm of over ninety. Then it is better she be candid with herself and with the world.

    • Carl: I had taken a course in Ethics. I read a thick textbook, heard the class discussions and came out of it saying I hadn't learned a thing I didn't know before about morals and what is right or wrong in human conduct.

    • Carl: I had been keeping an off eye on the advertising field, thinking I might become an idea man and a copywriter.

    • Carl: I had a flashlight thrown on how language can change over centuries.

    • Carl: I had a feeling the name Carl would mean one more Poor Swede Boy while the name Charles filled the mouth with fun and had 'em guessing.

    • Carl: I fell in love, not deep, but I fell several times and then fell out.

    • Carl: I doubt if you can have a truly wild party without liquor.

    • Carl: I decided I would go to Chicago and try my luck as a writer after those eight months as a fireman.

    • Carl: I couldn't see myself filling some definite niche in what is called a career. This was all misty.

    • Carl: I can remember only a few of the strange and curious words now dead but living and spoken by the English people a thousand years ago.

    • Carl: I came to see how the common people close to the earth by their day-to-day usage of words make changes in their simplest speech.

    • Carl: I believe fireman are mostly quiet sleepers who don't talk, cry, or moan in their sleep.

    • Carl: I am an idealist. I believe in everything-I am only looking for proofs.

    • Carl: Here is the difference between Dante, Milton, and me. They wrote about hell and never saw the place. I wrote about Chicago after looking the town over for years and years.

    • Carl: From year to year the chapel exercises, a half-hour beginning at nine, never lost interest for me.

    • Carl: For years the Chicago redlight district was to go on as a known and recognized business operation.

    • Carl: Every other day I drove my two bay horses back and forth along Brooks Street for exercise.

    • Carl: Every couple that kept going steady over the four years I was at college were later reported as married.

    • Carl: Every blunder behind us is giving a cheer for us, and only for those who were willing to fail are the dangers and splendors of life.

    • Carl: During my four years at Lombard I never knew of a student getting drunk.

    • Carl: Dreamers most often got the loud horse laugh or the quiet merry titter.

    • Carl: Calling it off comes easy enough if you haven't told the girl you are smitten with her.

    • Carl: Basketball had a fascination for me, and during the four years I never thought of quitting the game.

    • Carl: Back of every mistaken venture and defeat is the laughter of wisdom, if you listen.

    • Carl: At football I had my try-outs and found that after being slammed to the ground a few times I had no interest in my studies.

    • Carl: Arithmetic is where the answer is right and everything is nice and you can look out of the window and see the blue sky - or the answer is wrong and you have to start over and try again and see how it comes out this time

    • Carl: Anger is the most impotent of passions. It effects nothing it goes about, and hurts the one who is possessed by it more than the one against whom it is directed.

    • Carl: All politicians should have three hats - one to throw into the ring, one to talk through, and one to pull rabbits out of if elected.

    • Carl: All human actions are equivalent... and all are on principle doomed to failure.

    • Carl: A man may be born, but in order to be born he must first die, and in order to die he must first awake.

    • Carl: A fellow, after speaking, took his seat as though he had had a good workout and felt easier.

    • Carl: A book is never a masterpiece: it becomes one. Genius is the talent of a dead man.

    • Carl: A baby is God's opinion that life should go on.