Carl Sandburg was born in Galesburg, Illinois, on January 6, 1878. His parents, August and Clara Johnson, had emigrated to America from the north of Sweden. After encountering several August Johnsons in his job for the railroad, the Sandburg's father renamed the family. The Sandburgs were very poor; Carl left school at the age of thirteen to work odd jobs, from laying bricks to dishwashing, to help support his family. At seventeen, he traveled west to Kansas as a hobo. He then served eight months in Puerto Rico during the Spanish-American war. While serving, Sandburg met a student at Lombard College, the small school located in Sandburg's hometown. The young man convinced Sandburg to enroll in Lombard after his return from the war.
Sandburg worked his way through school, where he attracted the attention of Professor Philip Green Wright, who not only encouraged Sandburg's writing, but paid for the publication of his first volume of poetry, a pamphlet called Reckless Ecstasy (1904). While Sandburg attended Lombard for four years, he never received a diploma (he would later receive honorary degrees from Lombard, Knox College, and Northwestern University). After college, Sandburg moved to Milwaukee, where he worked as an advertising writer and a newspaper reporter. While there, he met and married Lillian Steichen (whom he called Paula), sister of the photographer Edward Steichen. A Socialist sympathizer at that point in his life, Sandburg then worked for the Social-Democrat Party in Wisconsin and later acted as secretary to the first Socialist mayor of Milwaukee from 1910 to 1912.
The Sandburgs soon moved to Chicago, where Carl became an editorial writer for the Chicago Daily News. Harriet Monroe had just started Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, and began publishing Sandburg's poems, encouraging him to continue writing in the free-verse, Whitman-like style he had cultivated in college. Monroe liked the poems' homely speech, which distinguished Sandburg from his predecessors. It was during this period that Sandburg was recognized as a member of the Chicago literary renaissance, which included Ben Hecht, Theodore Dreiser, Sherwood Anderson, and Edgar Lee Masters. He established his reputation with Chicago Poems (1916), and then Cornhuskers (1918). Soon after the publication of these volumes Sandburg wrote Smoke and Steel (1920), his first prolonged attempt to find beauty in modern industrialism. With these three volumes, Sandburg became known for his free verse poems celebrating industrial and agricultural America, American geography and landscape, and the American common people.
In the twenties, he started some of his most ambitious projects, including his study of Abraham Lincoln. From childhood, Sandburg loved and admired the legacy of President Lincoln. For thirty years he sought out and collected material, and gradually began the writing of the six-volume definitive biography of the former president. The twenties also saw Sandburg's collections of American folklore, the ballads in The American Songbag and The New American Songbag (1950), and books for children. These later volumes contained pieces collected from brief tours across America which Sandburg took each year, playing his banjo or guitar, singing folk-songs, and reciting poems.
In the 1930s, Sandburg continued his celebration of America with Mary Lincoln, Wife and Widow (1932), The People, Yes (1936), and the second part of his Lincoln biography, Abraham Lincoln: The War Years (1939), for which he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize. He received a second Pulitzer Prize for his Complete Poems in 1950. His final volumes of verse were Harvest Poems, 1910-1960 (1960) and Honey and Salt (1963). Carl Sandburg died in 1967.
Poetry In Reckless Ecstasy (1904)
Chicago Poems (1916)
Smoke and Steel (1920)
Slabs of the Sunburnt West (1922)
Selected Poems (1926)
Good Morning, America (1928)
The People, Yes (1936)
Complete Poems (1950)
Harvest Poems (1950)
Honey and Salt (1963)
Prose Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years (1926)
The American Songbag (1927)
Steichen the Photographer (1929)
Mary Lincoln: Wife and Widow (1932)
Abraham Lincoln: The War Years (1939)
The New American Songbag (1950)
by Carl Sandbury
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:
They tell me you are wicked and I believe them, for I have seen your
painted women under the gas lamps luring the farm boys.
And they tell me you are crooked and I answer: yes, it is true I have seen
the gunman kill and go free to kill again.
And they tell me you are brutal and my reply is: On the faces of women
and children I have seen the marks of wanton hunger.
And having answered so I turn once more to those who sneer at this my
city, and I give them back the sneer and say to them:
Come and show me another city with lifted head singing so proud to be
alive and coarse and strong and cunning.
Flinging magnetic curses amid the toil of piling job on job, here is a tall
bold slugger set vivid against the little soft cities;
Fierce as a dog with tongue lapping for action, cunning as a savage pitted
against the wilderness,
Building, breaking, rebuilding,
Under the smoke, dust all over his mouth, laughing with white teeth,
Under the terrible burden of destiny laughing as a young man laughs,
Laughing even as an ignorant fighter laughs who has never lost a battle,
Bragging and laughing that under his wrist is the pulse, and under his
ribs the heart of the people,
Laughing the stormy, husky, brawling laughter of Youth, half-naked,
sweating, proud to be Hog Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
Player with Railroads and Freight Handler to the Nation.
Questions for Review
1. In the poem, Chicago is compared to hog butcher, tool maker, player with railroads. What function does the metaphor serve?
2. The poet depicts an image at the end of the poem. What is it? In what way is the image related to the theme of the poem?
3. It is widely held that language style of a poem contributes to the conveyance of the theme. Explain it
4. In what is the poem different from the poems we have learned?
The poem presents a striking and impressive description of the vigor and vitality of Chicago primarily by means of personification, images and metaphor.
In the first five lines, Chicago is compared to "hog butcher", "tool maker", "stacker of wheat", "Players with railroads", "the National Freight Handler" and "the Big Shoulders", all of whom are powerful and vigorous. By using this metaphor. The poet highlights the vigor of Chicago.
In the next 13 lines, the poet agrees that Chicago is wicked, crooked and brutal in a straightforward way by assuming a talk between the poet and the personified city, but he goes on to develop the theme of the poem by stating that Chicago is "alive and coarse and strong and cunning".
Then in the last 21 lines, the poet delineates the images of "a tall bold slugger", "a dog lapping for actions" and "a savage pitted against the wilderness". They are all incarnations of power, strength, vitality and action. So, the use of these images further emphasizes the vigor of Chicago.
It merits notice that the poet conforms the language style of the conveyance of the theme. One eye-catching characteristic of the poem is that verbs take up a very high proportion and therefore create in the reader's mind a sense of mobility and vitality. Moreover, the varied syntactic pattern and changeable rhythm also reveal the mobility, energy, and vigor of Chicago.
----选自 《 20世纪英美文学选读－现代主义卷 》