For those of you who instantly disapprove of the title of this post:
It could be worse- at least I’m not crushing on a pasty thousand-year-old bloodsucker! (Yes, Edward Cullen, I’m talking about you…)
No, the man I am referring to is Carl Sandburg.
Now, most of you just went “Wha- who?? Is he like a politician or something?” And maybe, a few of you actually scratched your heads and said, “Wait, isn’t that the guy who wrote that lame poem they made us memorize in grade school about fog having little cat feet?”
But… I’m getting ahead of myself…
This past week, I climbed the wide staircase in the beautiful old library I work at, made my way past the grimly staring taxidermied animals from the 1800s, and randomly pulled this book off of the poetry shelf.
I brought it home and began reading it, half-heartedly at first, and then with growing excitement.
I don’t read books of poetry in an orderly fashion, from cover to cover. I take a tentative bite in the middle, then I pick at the edges, rolling them carefully across my tongue. If I like what I taste, I dig in, shoveling luscious mouthfuls as fast as I can. I pretty much pigged out on this book.
My poor husband had to endure me reading multiple verses to him in the car, with me smiling the whole time, like a lovesick teenager.
It is absolutely CRIMINAL that Carl Sandburg’s whole legacy has been reduced to a pathetic poetry fragment he probably scribbled on his napkin, while eating dinner. His “cat-foot” poem doesn’t even SOUND like him!
The poetry contained in his book “Chicago” has grit! It lives and breathes and sweats. It cries, makes love, and dies.
The people he pinned to paper are preserved with the lost art of the ancient Egyptians…. lifelike faces and mummies of souls, caught in crisp black ink.
If you appreciate poetry at all, even a little bit, please go to this website and see for yourself. Warning: he is highly addictive!
A good place to start is with his poem, “Skyscraper“:
“…A young watchman leans at a window and sees the lights
of barges butting their way across a harbor, nets of
red and white lanterns in a railroad yard, and a span
of glooms splashed with lines of white and blurs of
crosses and clusters over the sleeping city.
By night the skyscraper looms in the smoke and the stars
and has a soul….”
Or with his sobering portrayal of earth’s long ages, “I Am the People, the Mob“:
“…Sometimes I growl, shake myself and spatter a few red
drops for history to remember. Then–I forget.
When I, the People, learn to remember, when I, the
People, use the lessons of yesterday and no longer
forget who robbed me last year, who played me for
a fool–then there will be no speaker in all the world…”