Essay on Carl Sandburg and How He was Influenced by Walt Whitman

Essay on Carl Sandburg and How He was Influenced by Walt Whitman

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Carl Sandburg and How He was Influenced by Walt Whitman


Carl Sandburg and Walt Whitman had very similar lives. They both came from working class families and neither one of them went to high school or graduated college. They learned from watching people and by reading books on their own. They both had a certain sense for the world that made them able to see what was going on around them and grasp its significance. Although Whitman was born sixty years before Sandburg there were still a lot of the same things happening in America and they both picked up on one important factor of the time, that of the average working class man. Whitman and Sandburg admired the working class man for all of his hard work and they wrote a lot about this admiration

The fact that Whitman and Sandburg both were raised in the working class and pretty much worked all of their lives probably has a strong impact on why they wanted to praise their fellow working class citizen. They felt empowered by these people and wanted to give something back to them for working so hard and not getting any acclaim. When Sandburg and Whitman wrote about the common man they usually did it in the company of a certain poetic trait known as cataloging. With cataloging one is able to produce many detailed images repeatedly. Both Sandburg and Whitman show this characteristic in a number of works. The following is a poem by Walt Whitman that uses cataloging to show American at its best:

I Hear America Singing

American mouth-songs!
Those of mechanics--each one singing his, as it should be, blithe and strong,
The carpenter singing his, as he measures his plank or beam,
The mason singing his, as he makes ready for work, or leaves for work,
The boatman singing what b...


... middle of paper ...


...d getting a sense of what Whitman and Sandburg are trying to do with their poetry it is much easier to understand the meanings of many of their poems. Although the majority of the poems are not as straight forward as these two are about the working class it is an underlying theme throughout most of their poetry. They have worked very hard to get to where they are in history and they want to give credit to all of those who also are working hard to get what they want out of life.

Works Cited

Chapman, Wes. The Web of American Poetry Teaching Notes.

Crowder, Richard. Carl Sandburg. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1964.

Sandburg, Carl. "Chicago." The Columbia Anthology of American Poetry. Ed. Jay Parini. New York: Columbia UP, 1995. 320-321.

Whitman, Walt. "I Hear America Singing." Selected Poems and Prose. Ed. A. Norman Jeffares. London: Oxford UP, 1966. 125.

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