Hot gold runs a winding stream on the inside of a green bowl.

    Yellow trickles in a fan figure, scatters a line of skirmishes, spreads a chorus of dancing girls, performs blazing ochre evolutions, gathers the whole show into one stream, forgets the past and rolls on.

    The sea-mist green of the bowl's bottom is a dark throat of sky crossed by quarreling forks of umber and ochre and yellow changing faces.

    Carl Sandburg (1878 - 1967)

Carl Sandburg that troubadour of American folk songs whose ashes are beneath buried "Remembrance Rock" in Galesburg, Illinois could truly write poetry that expressed the earthy and wholesome nature of America finding both soft and harsh beauty among the people he observed. He grew up in the fields of Illinois and travelled the box cars of the midwest where he must have garnered his optimism for the American people. During his many years of writing editorials for the Chicago Daily News from 1918 to 1933 he wrote several volumes of poetry such as Cornhuskers in 1918, Smoke and Steel in 1920, and Good Morning America in 1928.

Full of rhythm and energy he is a poet who is rooted in the ground and a joy on days when I am in the mood to read songs about of the world I know -- work, mesquites, steel mixing bowls, the tedium of cooking, dancing to loud music and sweet white wine. With words plain and unadorned his images drive the scenes along in enthusiastic praise of workers, "Pittsburgh, Youngstown, Gary, they make their steel with men", and extols life in all its raw beauty: "Come and show me another city with lifted head singing so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning."

Crucible, hewn in layers of granited words is strong and perfectly balanced as a part of his collection from Smoke and Steel. It is as if it were as wise to cast just these words into his blue green vessel so that we might discover principles of color and gesture, Sandburg has successfully sought to transfuse from one language into another creation he see as the smelter sees. The simulacrum must spring from the impure shadow of the earth reborn from its tribulations within the vessel, or it will bear no beauty- and no refinement, it would remain a confusion of rock piles and mere rubble, and this, says the poet are the blessings and burdens against the toils of the labor.


Bram, Robert Philips, Norma H. Dicky, "Sandburg, Carl," Funk & Wagnalls New Encyclopedia , 1988.

Public Domain text taken from:

CST Approved.