Carl Sandburg was born in rural Galesburg, Illinois in 1878. He quit school after eighth grade, and did a variety of jobs throughout the Midwest, including traveling as a hobo, working as a fireman, and threshing wheat, eventually settling down as a journalist in the city of Chicago. Through his experiences, he observed the dichotomy between rich and poor and developed a strong sympathy for the “plight of the worker,” a sympathy obvious in his first book of poetry, Chicago Poems, first published in 1916.
While Sandburg’s poetry isn’t my favorite style nor does it focus on favorite subjects, I enjoyed reading Chicago Poems, and I loved the historical context of his poetry. He made the people of early twentieth-century Chicago real as he wrote of their plight. This was Chicago a hundred years ago: child factory workers, poor people dying of sickness and starvation, and the tragedy of every-day death.Continue Reading