Carl Sandburg

Carl Sandburg

Carl Sandburg (January 6, 1878 – July 22, 1967) was an American poet, writer, and editor who won three Pulitzer Prizes: two for his poetry and one for his biography of Abraham Lincoln. During his lifetime, Sandburg was widely regarded as "a major figure in contemporary literature", especially for volumes of his collected verse, including Chicago Poems (1916), Cornhuskers (1918), and Smoke and Steel (1920).

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Nothing happens unless first we dream.

One of the greatest necessities in America is to discover creative solitude.

A book is never a masterpiece: it becomes one. Genius is the talent of a dead man.

Every blunder behind us is giving a cheer for us, and only for those who were willing to fail are the dangers and splendors of life.

A baby is God's opinion that life should go on.

I tell you the past is a bucket of ashes, so live not in your yesterdays, no just for tomorrow, but in the here and now. Keep moving and forget the post mortems, and remember no one can get the jump on the future.

Poetry is an echo asking a shadow to dance.

I learned you can't trust the judgment of good friends.

I knew I would read all kinds of books and try to get at what it is that makes good writers good. But I made no promises that I would write books a lot of people would like to read.

Anger is the most impotent of passions. It effects nothing, it goes about and hurts the one who is possessed by it more than the one against whom it is directed.

Life is like an onion. You peel it off one layer at a time, and sometimes you weep.

Calling it off comes easy enough if you haven't told the girl you are smitten with her.

I decided I would go to Chicago and try my luck as a writer after those eight months as a fireman.

I make it clear why I write as I do and why other poets write as they do. After hundreds of experiments I decided to go my own way in style and see what would happen.

Sometime they'll give a war and nobody will come.

When I was writing pretty poor poetry this girl with midnight black hair told me to go on.

Shame is the feeling you have when you agree with the woman who loves you that you are the man she thinks you are.

There have been as many varieties of socialists as there are wild birds that fly in the woods and sometimes go up and on through the clouds.

Arithmetic is where the answer is right and everything is nice and you can look out of the window and see the blue sky - or the answer is wrong and you have to start over and try again and see how it comes out this time.

A man may be born but in order to be born he must first die and in order to die he must first awake.

I had taken a course in Ethics. I read a thick textbook heard the class discussions and came out of it saying I hadn't learned a thing I didn't know before about morals and what is right or wrong in human conduct.

I won't take my religion from any man who never works except with his mouth.

Let a joy keep you. Reach out your hands and take it when it runs by.

I'm either going to be a writer or a bum.

The greatest cunning is to have none at all.

When a nation goes down or a society perishes one condition may always be found, they forgot where they came from. They lost sight of what had brought them along.

Nearly all the best things that came to me in life have been unexpected unplanned by me.

Often I look back and see that I had been many kinds of a fool-and that I had been happy in being this or that kind of fool.

To work hard to live hard to die hard and then go to hell after all would be too damn hard.

I am an idealist. I don't know where I'm going but I'm on my way.

The sea speaks a language polite people never repeat. It is a colossal scavenger slang and has no respect.

Back of every mistaken venture and defeat is the laughter of wisdom if you listen.

Poetry is a phantom script telling how rainbows are made and why they go away.

I never made a mistake in grammar but one in my life and as soon as I done it I seen it.

Strange things blow in through my window on the wings of the night wind and I don't worry about my destiny.

Where was I going? I puzzled and wondered about it til I actually enjoyed the puzzlement and wondering.

In these times you have to be an optimist to open your eyes when you awake in the morning.

Let the gentle bush dig its root deep and spread upward to split the boulder.

Poetry is the synthesis of hyacinths and biscuits.

I couldn't see myself filling some definite niche in what is called a career. This was all misty.

I have often wondered what it is an old building can do to you when you happen to know a little about things that went on long ago in that building.

I have become infected now that I see how beautifully a book is coming out of all this.

I had been keeping an off eye on the advertising field thinking I might become an idea man and a copywriter.

We had two grand antique professors who had been teaching at Lombard since before I was born.

There are 10 men in me and I do not know or understand one of them.

The scholars and poets of an earlier time can be read only with a dictionary to help.

I fell in love not deep but I fell several times and then fell out.

We don't have to think up a title till we get the doggone book written.

Here is the difference between Dante Milton and me. They wrote about hell and never saw the place. I wrote about Chicago after looking the town over for years and years.

I took to wearing a black tie known as the Ascot with long drooping ends. I had seen pictures of painters sculptors poets wearing this style of tie.

The secret of happiness is to admire without desiring.

Love your neighbor as yourself, but don't take down the fence.

I doubt if you can have a truly wild party without liquor.

Poetry is the opening and closing of a door leaving those who look through to guess about what is seen during the moment.

I can remember only a few of the strange and curious words now dead but living and spoken by the English people a thousand years ago.

All human actions are equivalent... and all are on principle doomed to failure.

I've written some poetry I don't understand myself.

You remember some bedrooms you have slept in. There are bedrooms you like to remember and others you would like to forget.

To be a good loser is to learn how to win.

There is an eagle in me that wants to soar and there is a hippopotamus in me that wants to wallow in the mud.

There was always the consolation that if I didn't like what I wrote I could throw it away or burn it.

I stayed away from mathematics not so much because I knew it would be hard work as because of the amount of time I knew it would take hours spent in a field where I was not a natural.

The moon is a friend for the lonesome to talk to.

I wrote poems in my corner of the Brooks Street station. I sent them to two editors who rejected them right off. I read those letters of rejection years later and I agreed with those editors.

Valor is a gift. Those having it never know for sure whether they have it till the test comes. And those having it in one test never know for sure if they will have it when the next test comes.

I'm an idealist. I don't know where I'm going but I'm on my way.

I have always felt that a woman has the right to treat the subject of her age with ambiguity until perhaps she passes into the realm of over ninety. Then it is better she be candid with herself and with the world.

My room for books and study, or for sitting and thinking about nothing in particular, to see what would happen, was at the end of a hall.

I have in later years taken to Euclid Whitehead Bertrand Russell in an elemental way.

Ordering a man to write a poem is like commanding a pregnant woman to give birth to a red-headed child.

Slang is a language that rolls up its sleeves spits on its hands and goes to work.

All politicians should have 3 hats - one to throw into the ring one to talk through and one to pull rabbits out of if elected.

We read Robert Browning's poetry. Here we needed no guidance from the professor: the poems themselves were enough.

A politician should have three hats. One for throwing into the ring one for talking through and one for pulling rabbits out of if elected.

Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.