Carl Sandburg Quotes

Carl August Sandburg was a famous American writer and editor, much acclaimed for his poetry. During his lifetime, he won three Pulitzer Prizes, two for his poetry and another for a biography of Abraham Lincoln. He is also remembered for his works for children like, “Rootabaga Stories” and “Rootabaga Pigeons”. In 1959, Sandburg was awarded a Grammy Award for Best Performance – Documentary Or Spoken Word for his recording of Aaron Copland’s Lincoln Portrait with the New York Philharmonic. His other important works included “Chicago Poems” (1916), “Cornhuskers” (1918), “Good Morning, America” (1928) and “Potato Face” (1930). See also: Carl August Sandburg

We have collected and put the best Carl Sandburg quotes. Enjoy reading these insights and feel free to share this page on your social media to inspire others.

May these Carl Sandburg quotes on many subjects inspire you to never give up and keep working towards your goals. Who knows—success could be just around the corner.

Please DO page find from your browser for your subject SEARCH.

Carl Sandburg Quotes

A baby is God’s opinion that life should go on. – Carl Sandburg

A baby is God’s opinion that life should go on. Never will a time come when the most marvelous recent invention is as marvelous as a newborn baby. The finest of our precision watches, the most super-colossal of our supercargo planes don’t compare with a newborn baby in the number and ingenuity of coils and springs, in the flow and change of chemical solutions, in timing devises and interrelated parts that are irreplaceable.

A baby is God’s opinion that the world should go on. – Carl Sandburg

A book is never a masterpiece: it becomes one. – Carl Sandburg

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

A liar goes in fine clothes, a liar goes in rags, a liar is a liar, clothes or no clothes. – Carl Sandburg

A liar is a liar and lives on the lies he tells and dies in a life of lies. – Carl Sandburg

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

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.

A tough will counts. So does desire. So does a rich soft wanting. Without rich wanting nothing arrives. – Carl Sandburg, The People

A tree is best measured when it is down – and so it is with people. – Carl Sandburg

A women is like a tea bag.it’s only when she is in hot water that you realize how strong she is. – Carl Sandburg

After the sunset on the prairie, there are only the stars. – Carl Sandburg

Alike and ever alike, we are on all continents in the need of love, food, clothing, work, speech, worship, sleep, games, dancing, fun. From tropics to arctics humanity live with these needs so alike, so inexorably alike. – Carl Sandburg

All human actions are equivalent… and all are on principle doomed to failure. – Carl Sandburg

All my life I have been trying to learn to read, to see and hear, and to write. – Carl Sandburg

All my life I have been trying to learn, to read, to see and hear, and to write. At sixty-five I began my first novel and after the five years, lacking a month, I took to finish it, I was still traveling, still a seeker. – Carl Sandburg

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. – Carl Sandburg

All we need to begin with is a #‎ dream that we can do better than before. All we need to have is faith, and that dream will come true. All we need to do is act, and the time for action is now. – Carl Sandburg

Always the path of American destiny has been into the unknown. Always there arose enough reserves of strength, balances of sanity, portions of wisdom to carry the nation through to a fresh start with ever-renewing vitality. – Carl Sandburg

An ambition is a little creeper that creeps and creeps in your heart night and day, singing a little song, “Come and find me, come and find me.” – Carl Sandburg

An expert is a damn fool a long way from home. – Carl Sandburg

And all poets love dust and mist because all the last answers. Go running back to dust and mist. – Carl Sandburg

And even now she beats her head against the bars in the same old way and wonders if there is a bigger place the railroads run to from Chicago where maybe there is romance and big things and real dreams that never go smash. – Carl Sandburg

And how should a beautiful, ignorant stream of water know it heads for an early release — out across the desert, running toward the Gulf, below sea level, to murmur its lullaby, and see the Imperial Valley rise out of burning sand with cotton blossoms, wheat, watermelons, roses, how should it know? – Carl Sandburg

And the Sphinx broke its long silence: “Don’t expect too much. – Carl Sandburg

And those who saw the buffaloes are gone. – Carl Sandburg

And those who say, “I’ll try anything once,” often try nothing twice, three times, arriving late at the gate of dreams worth dying for. – Carl Sandburg

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. – Carl Sandburg

Arithmetic is numbers you squeeze from your head to your hand to your pencil to your paper till you get the answer. – Carl Sandburg

Arithmetic is where numbers fly like pigeons in and out of your head. – Carl Sandburg

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. – Carl Sandburg

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, if the women don’t get you then the whiskey must. – Carl Sandburg

Back of every mistaken venture and defeat is the laughter of wisdom, if you listen. – Carl Sandburg

Be careful with your words, once they are said, they can only be forgiven, not forgotten. – Carl Sandburg

Beat me and hammer me into a steel spike. – Carl Sandburg

Beware of advice—even this. – Carl Sandburg

Blowing,Blowing The gray slabs Will lose you the winds will flick you away In a whiff. – Carl Sandburg

By night the skyscraper looms in the smoke and the stars and has a soul. – Carl Sandburg

Calling it off comes easy enough if you haven’t told the girl you are smitten with her. – Carl Sandburg

Come and show me another city with lifted head singing so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning. – Carl Sandburg

Come clean with a child heart Laugh as peaches in the summer wind Let rain on a house roof be a song Let the writing on your face be a smell of apple orchards on late June. – Carl Sandburg

Come on, you Do you want to live forever? – Carl Sandburg

Corn wind in the fall, come off the black lands, come off the whisper of the silk hangers, the lap of the flat spear leaves. – Carl Sandburg

Death comes once, let it be easy– Carl Sandburg, Poetry of Carl Sandburg

Didn’t you tie the mittens on her feet (Wednesday Evening’s) extra special nice? Yes–she is an extra special nice pigeon. She cries for pity when she wants pity. And she shuts her eyes when she doesn’t want to look at you. And if you look deep in her eyes when her eyes are open you will see lights there exactly like the lights on the pastures and the meadows when the mist is drifting on a Wednesday evening just between the twilight and gloaming. – Carl Sandburg

Drum on your drums, batter on your banjos, sob on the long cool winding saxophones. Go to it, O jazzmen. – Carl Sandburg

Enough small empty boxes thrown into a big empty box fill it full. – Carl Sandburg

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. – Carl Sandburg

Faith is indispensable, and the world at times does not seem to have quite enough of it. It can and has accomplished what seems to be the impossible. Wars have been started and men and nations lost for the lack of it. Faith starts from the individual and builds men and nations. America was built by and on the faith of our ancestors. – Carl Sandburg

For we know when a nation goes down and never comes back, when a society or a civilization perishes, one condition may always be found. They forgot where they came from. They lost sight of what brought them along. – Carl Sandburg

Freedom is baffling: men having it often know not they have it till it is gone and they no longer have it. – Carl Sandburg

Gather the stars if you wish it so Gather the songs and keep them. Gather the faces of women. Gather for keeping years and years. And then… Loosen your hands, let go and say good-bye. Let the stars and songs go. Let the faces and years go. Loosen your hands and say good-bye. – Carl Sandburg

Give me hunger, pain and want, Shut me out with shame and failure From your doors of gold and fame, Give me your shabbiest, weariest hunger! But leave me a little love. – Carl Sandburg

Carl Sandburg Quotes

God, let me remember all good losers. – Carl Sandburg

Have I, have you, been too silent? Is there an easy crime of silence?– Carl Sandburg

He buttoned his overcoat and stood alone. – Carl Sandburg

Here I saw a city rise and say to the peoples round world: Listen, I am strong, I know what I want. – Carl Sandburg, Cornhuskers

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. – Carl Sandburg

His books were part of him. Each year of his life, it seemed, his books became more and more a part of him. This room, thirty by twenty feet, and the walls of shelves filled with books, had for him the murmuring of many voices. In the books of Herodotus, Tacitus, Rabelais, Thomas Browne, John Milton, and scores of others, he had found men of face and voice more real to him than many a man he had met for a smoke and a talk. – Carl Sandburg

History is a living horse laughing at a wooden horse. History is a wind blowing where it listeth. History is no sure thing to bet on. History is a box of tricks with a lost key. History is a labyrinth of doors with sliding panels, a book of ciphers with the code in a cave of the Saragossa sea. History says, if it pleases, Excuse me, I beg your pardon, it will never happen again if I can help it. – Carl Sandburg

Hog butcher for the world, Tool maker, stacker of wheat, Player with railroads and the nation’s freight handler; Stormy, husky, brawling, City of big shoulders. – Carl Sandburg

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. – Carl Sandburg

Hope is an echo, hope ties itself yonder, yonder. – Carl Sandburg

I am an idealist. I believe in everything — I am only looking for proofs. – Carl Sandburg

I am an idealist. I don’t know where I’m going, but I’m on my way. – Carl Sandburg

I am still studying verbs and the mystery of how they connect nouns. I am more suspicious of adjectives than at any other time in all my born days. – Carl Sandburg

I am stone and steel of your sleeping numbers; I remember all you forget. I will die as many times as you make me over again. – Carl Sandburg

I am the people – the mob – the crowd – the mass. Do you know that all the great work of the world is done through me?

I am! I have come through! I belong! – Carl Sandburg

I asked the professors who teach the meaning of life to tell me what is happiness. And I went to famous executives who boss the work of thousands of men. They all shook their heads and gave me a smile as though I was trying to fool with them. And then one Sunday afternoon I wandered out along the Desplaines river and I saw a crowd of Hungarians under the trees with their women and children and a keg of beer and an accordion. – Carl Sandburg

I been a wanderin’ Early and late, New York City To the Golden Gate An’ it looks like I’m never gonna cease my Wanderin’. – Carl Sandburg

I been a wanderin’
Early and late,
New York City
To the Golden Gate
An’ it looks like
I’m never gonna cease my
Wanderin’. – Carl Sandburg

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. – Carl Sandburg

I cannot tell you now; When the wind’s drive and whirl Blow me along no longer, And the wind’s a whisper at last – Maybe I’ll tell you then some other time. – Carl Sandburg

I could safely declare, I am an idealist… I believe in everything – I am only looking for proofs. – Carl Sandburg

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

I cried over beautiful things, knowing no beautiful thing lasts. – Carl Sandburg

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

I don’t know where I’m going, but I’m on my way. – Carl Sandburg

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

I feel like I’m drowning. Every night, I’m carrying home loads of things to read but I’m too exhausted. I keep clipping things and Xeroxing them and planning to read them eventually, but I just end up throwing it all away and feeling guilty. – Carl Sandburg

I fell in love, not deep, but I fell several times and then fell out. – Carl Sandburg

I glory in this world of men and women, torn with troubles, yet living on to love and laugh through it all. – Carl Sandburg

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

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. – Carl Sandburg

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. – Carl Sandburg

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

I have in later years taken to Euclid, Whitehead, Bertrand Russell, in an elemental way. – Carl Sandburg

Carl Sandburg Quotes

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. – Carl Sandburg

I have written some poetry that I don’t understand myself. – Carl Sandburg

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. – Carl Sandburg

I know of no task so salutory to the poet who would, first of all, put himself in touch with the resident genius of his own land– Carl Sandburg

I learned you can’t trust the judgment of good friends. – Carl Sandburg

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. – Carl Sandburg

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

I remember in my early 20s when I felt I couldn’t live past 30. I was learning how to write. I had a lot of hard work ahead of me. – Carl Sandburg

I remember the Chillicothe ballplayers grappling the Long Island ball players in a sixteen-inning game ended by darkness. And the shoulders of the Chillicothe players were a red smoke against the sundown and the shoulders of the Rock Island players were a yellow smoke against the sundown. And the umpire’s voice was hoarse calling balls and strikes and outs and the umpire’s throat fought in the dust for a song. – Carl Sandburg

I see America, not in the setting sun of a black night of despair ahead of us, I see America in the crimson light of a rising sun fresh from the burning, creative hand of God. I see great days ahead, great days possible to men and women of will and vision. – Carl Sandburg

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. – Carl Sandburg

I take you and pile high the memories. Death will break her claws on some I keep. – Carl Sandburg

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. – Carl Sandburg

I tell you the past is a bucket of ashes. – Carl Sandburg

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. – Carl Sandburg

I want to do the right thing, but often I don’t know just what the right thing is. Every day I know I have come short of what I would like to have done. Yet as the years pass and I see the very world itself, with its oceans and mountains and plains, as something unfinished, a peculiar little satisfaction hunts out the corners of my heart. Sunsets and evening shadows find me regretful at task’s undone, but sleep and the dawn and the air of the morning touch me with freshening hopes. Strange things blow in through my window on the wings of the night wind and I don’t worry about my destiny. – Carl Sandburg

I was up day and night with Lincoln for years. I couldn’t have picked a better companion. – Carl Sandburg

I won’t take my religion from any man who never works except with his mouth and never cherishes any memory except the face of the woman on the American silver dollar – Carl Sandburg

I won’t take my religion from any man who never works except with his mouth. – Carl Sandburg

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. – Carl Sandburg

I’m either going to be a writer or a bum. – Carl Sandburg

If [America] forgets where she came from, if the people lose sight of what brought them along, if she listens to the deniers and mockers, then will begin the rot and dissolution. – Carl Sandburg

If I added to their pride of America, I am happy. – Carl Sandburg

If she America forgets where she came from, if the people lose sight of what brought them along, if she listens to the deniers and mockers, then will begin the rot and dissolution. – Carl Sandburg

If the facts are against you, argue the law. If the law is against you, argue the facts. If the law and the facts are against you, pound the table and yell like hell. – Carl Sandburg

I’ll die propped up in bed trying to do a poem about America. – Carl Sandburg

I’m an idealist. I don’t know where I’m going but I’m on the way. – Carl Sandburg

I’m either going to be a writer or a bum. – Carl Sandburg

In a snowstorm, red hollyberries, thoughts, he stood alone. – Carl Sandburg

In democracy both a deep reverence and a sense of the comic are requisite. – Carl Sandburg

In the average newspaper there is not a complete suppression of stories that the sacred cows don’t want printed. But rather what happens is that the stories get printed with stresses, colorations and emphasis that favor the sacred cows. – Carl Sandburg

In the night the cabbages catch at the moon, the leaves drip silver, the rows of cabbages are a series of little silver waterfalls in the moon. – Carl Sandburg

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

It is necessary … for a man to go away by himself … to sit on a rock … and ask, ‘Who am I, where have I been, and where am I going? – Carl Sandburg

It is necessary now and then for a man to go away by himself and experience loneliness; to sit on a rock in the forest and to ask of himself, ‘Who am I, and where have I been, and where am I going?’…If one is not careful, one allows diversions to take up one’s time-the stuff of life – Carl Sandburg

It is the business of little minds to shrink. – Carl Sandburg

It was here we turned the coffee cups upside down. And your eyes and the moon swept the valley. – Carl Sandburg

I’ve written some poetry I don’t understand myself. – Carl Sandburg

Lay me on an anvil, O God. Beat me and hammer me into a steel spike. – Carl Sandburg

Let a joy keep you. Reach out your hands and take it runs by. – Carl Sandburg

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

Let your heart look on white sea spray and be lonely. Love is a fool star. You and a ring of stars may mention my name and then forget me. Love is a fool star. – Carl Sandburg

Life goes before we know what it is. / One fool is enough in any house. / Even God gets tired of too much hallelujah. / Take it easy and live long as brothers. – Carl Sandburg

Life is an onion – you peel it year by year and sometimes cry. – Carl Sandburg

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

Lips half-willing in a doorway. Lips half-singing at a window. Eyes half-dreaming in the walls. Feet half-dancing in a kitchen. Even the clocks half-yawn the hours And the farmers make half-answers. – Carl Sandburg

Look out how you use proud words. When you let proud words go, it is not easy to call them back. They wear long boots, hard boots; they walk off proud; they can’t hear you calling. Look out how you use proud words. – Carl Sandburg

Carl Sandburg Quotes

Love your neighbor as yourself but don’t take down your fence. – Carl Sandburg

Man is a long time coming. Man will yet win. Brother may yet line up with brother: This old anvil laughs at many broken hammers.There are men who can’t be bought. – Carl Sandburg

Men of ideas vanish first when freedom vanishes. – Carl Sandburg

Men of ideas vanish when freedom vanishes. – Carl Sandburg

Money buys everything except love, personality, freedom, immortality, silence, peace. – Carl Sandburg

Money is power, freedom, a cushion, the root of all evil, the sum of blessings. – Carl Sandburg

My first stringed instrument was a cigar box banjo where I cut and turned the pegs and strung the wires myself. – Carl Sandburg

My name is Truth and I am the most elusive captive in the universe. – Carl Sandburg

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. – Carl Sandburg

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

Never will a time come when the most marvelous recent invention is as marvelous as a newborn child. – Carl Sandburg

Newspapers tell beforehand what is going to happen – maybe. – Carl Sandburg

Night from a railroad car window is a great, dark, soft thing Broken across with slashes of light– Carl Sandburg

Not often in the story of mankind does a man arrive on earth who is both steel and velvet, who is as hard as rock and soft as drifting fog, who holds in his heart and mind the paradox of terrible storm and peace unspeakable and perfect. – Carl Sandburg

Nothing happens unless first a dream. – Carl Sandburg

Nothing happens… but first a dream. – Carl Sandburg

Now I am here – now read me – give me a name. – Carl Sandburg

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. – Carl Sandburg

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

One Parting Why did he write to her, “I can’t live without you”? And why did she write to him, “I can’t live without you”? For he went west, she went east, And they both lived. – Carl Sandburg

Ordering a man to write a poem is like commanding a pregnant woman to give birth to a red-haired child. – Carl Sandburg

Our lives are like a candle in the wind. – Carl Sandburg

out of great Russia came three
dusky syllables workmen took guns and went out to die
for: Bread, Peace, Land. – Carl Sandburg

People lie because they don’t remember clear what they saw. People lie because they can’t help making a story better than it was the way it happened. – Carl Sandburg

Pile the bodies high at Austerlitz and Waterloo,/ Shovel them under and let me work -/ I am the grass; I cover all. – Carl Sandburg

Pile the bodies high at Austerlitz and Waterloo. Shovel them under and let me workI am the grass; I cover all. And pile them high at Gettysburg And pile them high at Ypres and Verdun. Shovel them under and let me work. Two years, ten years, and passengers ask the conductor:What place is this?Where are we now?I am the grass. Let me work. – Carl Sandburg

On Poetry

Carl Sandburg Quotes

Poetry is a dance music measuring buck-and-wing follies along with the gravest and stateliest dead-marches. – Carl Sandburg

Poetry is a diary kept by a sea creature who lives on land and wishes he could fly. – Carl Sandburg

Poetry is a fossil rock-print of a fin and a wing, with an illegible oath between. – Carl Sandburg

Poetry is a fresh morning spider-web telling a story of moonlit hours of weaving and waiting during a night. – Carl Sandburg

Poetry is a kinetic arrangement of static syllables. – Carl Sandburg

Poetry is a mock of a cry at finding a million dollars and a mock of a laugh at losing it. – Carl Sandburg

Poetry is a mystic, sensuous mathematics of fire, smoke-stacks, waffles, pansies, people, and purple sunsets. – Carl Sandburg

Poetry is a packsack of invisible keepsakes. – Carl Sandburg

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

Poetry is a plan for a slit in the face of a bronze fountain goat and the path of fresh drinking water. – Carl Sandburg

Poetry is a projection across silence of cadences arranged to break that silence with definite intentions of echoes, syllables, wave lengths. – Carl Sandburg

Poetry is a puppet-show, where riders of skyrockets and divers of sea fathoms gossip about the sixth sense and the fourth dimension. – Carl Sandburg

Poetry is a search for syllables to shoot at the barriers of the unknown and the unknowable. – Carl Sandburg

Poetry is a section of river-fog and moving boat-lights, delivered between bridges and whistles, so one says, ‘Oh!’ and another, ‘How?’ – Carl Sandburg

Poetry is a sequence of dots and dashes, spelling depths, crypts, cross-lights, and moon wisps. – Carl Sandburg

Poetry is a series of explanations of life, fading off into horizons too swift for explanations. – Carl Sandburg

Poetry is a shuffling of boxes of illusions buckled with a strap of facts. – Carl Sandburg

Poetry is a sky dark with a wild-duck migration. – Carl Sandburg

Poetry is a slipknot tightened around a time-beat of one thought, two thoughts, and a last interweaving thought there is not yet a number for. – Carl Sandburg

Poetry is a theorem of a yellow-silk handkerchief knotted with riddles, sealed in a balloon tied to the tail of a kite flying in a white wind against a blue sky in spring. – Carl Sandburg

Poetry is a tracing of the trajectories of a finite sound to the infinite points of its echoes. – Carl Sandburg

Poetry is a type-font design for an alphabet of fun, hate, love, death. – Carl Sandburg

Poetry is an art practiced with the terribly plastic material of human language. – Carl Sandburg

Poetry is an echo, asking a shadow to dance. – Carl Sandburg

Poetry is an enumeration of birds, bees, babies, butterflies, bugs, bambinos, babayagas, and bipeds, beating their way up bewildering bastions. – Carl Sandburg

Poetry is an exhibit of one pendulum connecting with other and unseen pendulums inside and outside the one seen. – Carl Sandburg

Poetry is any page from a sketchbook of outlines of a doorknob with thumb-prints of dust, blood, dreams. – Carl Sandburg

Poetry is statement of a series of equations, with numbers and symbols changing like the changes of mirrors, pools, skies, the only never-changing sign being the sign of infinity. – Carl Sandburg

Poetry is the achievement of the synthesis of hyacinths and biscuits. – Carl Sandburg

Poetry is the arithmetic of the easiest way and the primrose path, matched up with foam-flanked horses, bloody knuckles, and bones, on the hard ways to the stars. – Carl Sandburg

Poetry is the capture of a picture, a song, or a flair, in a deliberate prism of words. – Carl Sandburg

Poetry is the cipher key to the five mystic wishes packed in a hollow silver bullet fed to a flying fish. – Carl Sandburg

Poetry is the establishment of a metaphorical link between white butterfly-wings and the scraps of torn-up love-letters.

Poetry is the harnessing of the paradox of earth cradling life and then entombing it. – Carl Sandburg

Poetry is the journal of a sea animal living on land, wanting to fly in the sky. – Carl Sandburg

Poetry is the journal of a sea animal living on land, wanting to fly in the air. – Carl Sandburg

Poetry is the journal of the sea animal living on land, wanting to fly in the air. Poetry is a search for syllables to shoot at the barriers of the unknown and the unknowable. Poetry is a phantom script telling how rainbows are made and why they go away. – Carl Sandburg

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

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

Poetry is the report of a nuance between two moments, when people say, ‘Listen!’ and ‘Did you see it?’ ‘Did you hear it? What was it?’ – Carl Sandburg

Poetry is the silence and speech between a wet struggling root of a flower and a sunlit blossom of that flower. – Carl Sandburg

Poetry is the synthesis of hyacinths and biscuits. – Carl Sandburg

POETRY: A sliver of the moon lost in the belly of a golden frog. – Carl Sandburg

Read the dictionary from A to Izzard today. Get a vocabulary. Brush up on your diction. See whether wisdom is just a lot of language. – Carl Sandburg

Rest is not a word of free people. Rest is a monarchical word. – Carl Sandburg

Revolt and terror pay a price. Order and law have a cost. – Carl Sandburg

Sandburg’s retelling of Lincoln’s attendance at an evangelist rally led by Peter Cartwright in 1846, in response to accusations by Cartwright’s followers that he was an “infidel” – Cartwright was his opponent in his race for Congress: – Carl Sandburg

Shakespeare, Leonardo da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin and Abraham Lincoln never saw a movie, heard a radio or looked at television. They had ‘Loneliness’ and knew what to do with it. They were not afraid of being lonely because they knew that was when the creative mood in them would work. – Carl Sandburg

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

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

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. – Carl Sandburg

So we all love a wild girl keeping a hold On a dream she wants. – Carl Sandburg

Somebody’s little girl- how easy it is to make a sob story over who she once was and who she now is. – Carl Sandburg

Someday they’ll give a war and nobody will come. – Carl Sandburg

SONG OF THE MAN WHO WAS TO BE HUNG The thunders will take me home, whenever I mind to go home, my friends, and the wind it will take me home, too– Carl Sandburg

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

Such a Big miracle in such a tiny baby. Big things often have small beginnings A baby is God’s opinion that life should go on. – Carl Sandburg

Tell him solitude is creative if he is strong and the final decisions are made in silent rooms. Tell him to be different from other people if it comes natural and easy being different. Let him have lazy days seeking his deeper motives. Let him seek deep for where he is a born natural. Then he may understand Shakespeare and the Wright brothers, Pasteur, Pavlov, Michael Faraday and free imaginations Bringing changes into a world resenting change. He will be lonely enough to have time for the work he knows as his own. – Carl Sandburg

Tell no man anything, for no man listens Yet hold thy lips ready to speak. – Carl Sandburg

The buffaloes are gone. And those who saw the buffaloes are gone. – Carl Sandburg

The dead hold in their hands only what they have given away. – Carl Sandburg

Carl Sandburg Quotes

The doorknobs open the doors. The windows are always either open or shut. We are always either upstairs or downstairs in this house. Everything is the same as it always was. – Carl Sandburg

The drum in a dream pounds loud to the dreamer. – Carl Sandburg

The fog comes on little cat feet. – Carl Sandburg

The fog comes on little cat feet. It sits looking over harbor and city on silent haunches and then moves on. – Carl Sandburg

Fog
The fog comes
on little cat feet.
It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on. – Carl Sandburg

The greatest certainty in life is death. The greatest uncertainty is the time. – Carl Sandburg

The greatest cunning is to have none at all. – Carl Sandburg

The impact of television on our culture is just indescribable. – Carl Sandburg

The impact of television on our culture is. . . indescribable. There’s a certain sense in which it is nearly as important as the invention of printing. – Carl Sandburg

The machine yes, the machine, never wastes anybody’s time, never watches the foreman, never talks back – Carl Sandburg

The marvelous rebellion of man at all signs reading “Keep Off. – Carl Sandburg

The moon is a friend for the lonesome to talk to. – Carl Sandburg

The moon is friend for the lonesome to talk to. – Carl Sandburg

The more rhyme there is in poetry the more danger of its tricking the writer into something other than the urge in the beginning. – Carl Sandburg

The past is a bucket of ashes, so live not in your yesterdays, nor just for tomorrow, but in the here and now. – Carl Sandburg

The past is a bucket of ashes. – Carl Sandburg

The peace of great books be for you, Stains of pressed clover leaves on pages, Bleach of the light of years held in leather.

The peace of great books be for you,
Stains of pressed clover leaves on pages,
Bleach of the light of years held in leather. – Carl Sandburg

The people know what the land knows. – Carl Sandburg

The people will live on.The learning and blundering people will live on. – Carl Sandburg

The republic is a dream, Nothing happens unless first a dream – Carl Sandburg

The republic is a dream. – Carl Sandburg

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

The sea is always the same: and yet the sea always changes. – Carl Sandburg

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

The secret to happiness is to admire without desiring. – Carl Sandburg

The shovel is brother to the gun. – Carl Sandburg

The shovel is the brother to the gun. – Carl Sandburg

The simple dignity of a child drinking a bowl of milk embodies the fascination of an ancient rite. – Carl Sandburg

The single clenched fist lifted and ready, Or the open asking hand held out and waiting. Choose: For we meet by one or the other. – Carl Sandburg

The squeaky wheel gets the grease but the quacking duck gets shot. – Carl Sandburg

The time for action is now. It’s never too late to do something. – Carl Sandburg

The wind bit hard at Valley Forge one Christmas. Soldiers tied rags on their feet. Red footprints wrote on the snow . . . – Carl Sandburg

The woman named Tomorrow
sits with a hairpin in her teeth
and takes her time – Carl Sandburg

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

There are dreams stronger than death. Men and women die holding these dreams. – Carl Sandburg

There are men and women so lonely they believe God, too, is lonely. – Carl Sandburg

There are people who want to be everywhere at once and they seem to get nowhere – Carl Sandburg

There are people who want to be everywhere at once, and they get nowhere – Carl Sandburg

There are some people so lonely, they think God is lonely too. – Carl Sandburg

There are some people who can receive a truth by no other way than to have their understanding shocked and insulted. – Carl Sandburg

There are ten men in me and I do not know or understand one of them. – Carl Sandburg

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. – Carl Sandburg

There is a formal poetry perfect only in form?the number of syllables, the designated and required stresses of accent, the rhymes if wanted they come off with the skill of a solved crossword puzzle. – Carl Sandburg

There is a music for lonely hearts nearly always. If the music dies down there is a silence. Almost the same as the movement of music. To know silence perfectly is to know music. – Carl Sandburg

There is a warning love sends and the cost of it is never written till long afterward. – Carl Sandburg

There is a wolf in me… – I keep this wolf because the wilderness gave it to me and the wilderness will not let it go. – Carl Sandburg

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

There is an eagle in me that wants to soar. – Carl Sandburg

There is no song to your singing. – Carl Sandburg

There is only one child in the world and the child’s name is all children. – Carl Sandburg

There is only one man in the world and his name is All Men. There is only one woman in the world and her name is All Women. There is only one child in the world and the child’s name is All Children. – Carl Sandburg

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

There will be a rusty gun on the wall, sweetheart, The rifle grooves curling with flakes of rust. A spider will make a silver string nest in the darkest, warmest corner of it. – Carl Sandburg

There will be a rusty gun on the wall, sweetheart,
The rifle grooves curling with flakes of rust.
A spider will make a silver string nest in the darkest, warmest
corner of it. – Carl Sandburg

Time is a great teacher,
Who can live without hope? – Carl Sandburg

Time is a sandpile we run our fingers in. – Carl Sandburg

Time is the coin of life. Only you can determine how it will be spent. – Carl Sandburg

Time is the coin of our live. We must take care how we spend it. – Carl Sandburg

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. – Carl Sandburg

Time is the coin of your life. You spend it. Do not allow others to spend it for you. – Carl Sandburg

Time is the most valuable coin in your life. You and you alone will determine how that coin will be spent. Be careful that you do not let other people spend it for you. – Carl Sandburg

Time says hush: by the gong of time you live. Listen and you hear time saying you were silent long before you came to life and you will again be silent long after you leave it, why not be a little silent now? Hush yourself, noisy little man. Time hushes all: the gong of time rang for you to come out of the hush and you were born. The gong of time will ring for you to go back to the same hush you came from. Winners and losers, the weak and the strong, those who say little and try to say it well, and those who babble and prattle their lives away, time hushes all. – Carl Sandburg

To a man across a thousand years I offer a handshake. I say to him: Brother, make the story short, for the stretch of a thousand years is short. – Carl Sandburg

To be a good loser is to learn how to win. – Carl Sandburg

To know silence perfectly is to know music. – Carl Sandburg

To never see a fool you lock yourself in your room and smash the looking-glass. – Carl Sandburg

To those who had ordered them to death, one of them said: “We die because the people are asleep and you will die because the people will awaken.” – Carl Sandburg

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

Tongues wrangled dark at a man. He buttoned his overcoat and stood alone. In a snowstorm, red hollyberries, thoughts, he stood alone. – Carl Sandburg

Two bubbles found they had rainbows on their curves. They flickered out saying: “It was worth being a bubble, just to have held that rainbow thirty seconds. – Carl Sandburg

Under the harvest moon, When the soft silver Drips shimmering Over the garden nights, Death, the gray mocker, Comes and whispers to you As a beautiful friend Who remembers. – Carl Sandburg

Under the harvest moon,
When the soft silver
Drips shimmering
Over the garden nights,
Death, the gray mocker,
Comes and whispers to you
As a beautiful friend
Who remembers. – Carl Sandburg

Under the summer roses When the flagrant crimson Lurks in the dusk Of the wild red leaves, Love, with little hands, Comes and touches you With a thousand memories, And asks you Beautiful, unanswerable questions. – Carl Sandburg

Valor is a gift. Those having it never know for sure if 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. – Carl Sandburg

Valor is a gift. Those having it never know for sure whether they have it until the test comes. – Carl Sandburg

We can never possibly know what is about to happen: it is happening, each time, for the first time, for the only time. – Carl Sandburg

We don’t have to think up a title till we get the doggone book written. – Carl Sandburg

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

We live in the time of the colossal upright oblong. – Carl Sandburg

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

What else have I done nearly all my life than go hungry and go on singing? – Carl Sandburg

What if someone gave a war & Nobody came? / Life would ring the bells of Ecstasy and Forever be Itself again. – Carl Sandburg

What is there more of in the world than anything else? Ends. – Carl Sandburg

What of the Wright boys in Dayton? Just around the corner they had a shop and did a bicycle business-and they wanted to fly for the sake of flying. They were Man the Seeker, Man on a Quest. Money was their last thought, their final absent-minded idea. They threw out a lot of old mistaken measurements and figured new ones that stood up when they took off and held the air and steered a course. They proved that “the faster you go the less power you need.” – Carl Sandburg

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. – Carl Sandburg

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

When one has the right swing and enthusiasm, selling is not unlike hunting, a veritable sport. To scare up the game by preliminary talk and to know how long to follow it, to lose your gain through poorly directed argument, to hang on to game that finally eludes, to boldly confront, to quickly circle around, to keep on the trail, tireless and keen, till you have bagged some orders, there is some satisfaction in returning at night, tired of the trail, but proud of the days work done. – Carl Sandburg

Whenever a people or an institution forget its hard beginnings, it is beginning to decay. – Carl Sandburg

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

Who am I, where have I been, and where am I going? – Carl Sandburg

Who else speaks for the Family of Man? They are in tune and step with constellations of universal law. – Carl Sandburg

Who else speaks for the Family of Man?
They are in tune and step
with constellations of universal law. – Carl Sandburg

Who put up that cage? Who hung it up with bars, doors? Why do those on the inside want to get out? Why do those outside want to get in? What is this crying inside and out all the time? What is this endless, useless beating of baffled wings at these bars, doors, this cage? – Carl Sandburg

Why did he write to her, “I can’t live without you?” And why did she write to him “I can’t live without you?” For he went west and she went east and they both lived. – Carl Sandburg

Why does a hearse horse snicker, hauling a lawyer away?– Carl Sandburg

Why is there always a secret singing when a lawyer cashes in? Why does a hearse horse snicker hauling a lawyer away? – Carl Sandburg

Wishes left on your lips The mark of their wings. Regrets fly kites in your eyes. – Carl Sandburg

Yesterday and tomorrow cross and mix on the skyline. The two are lost in a purple haze. One forgets, one waits. – Carl Sandburg

Yesterday is done. Tomorrow never comes. Today is here. If you don’t know what to do, sit still and listen. You may hear something. Nobody knows. – Carl Sandburg

You know being born is important to you. You know nothing else was ever so important to you. – Carl Sandburg

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

Carl Sandburg Quotes

From Wikiquote

  • There are some people who can receive a truth by no other way than to have their understanding shocked and insulted.
    • In Reckless Ecstasy (1904)
  • Yesterday is done. Tomorrow never comes. Today is here. If you don’t know what to do, sit still and listen. You may hear something. Nobody knows.
    We may pull apart the petals of a rose or make chemical analysis of its perfume, but the mystic beauty of its form and odor is still a secret, locked in to where we have no keys.

    • Incidentals (1904)
  • Back of every mistaken venture and defeat is the laughter of wisdom, if you listen. 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. To be a good loser is to learn how to win. I was sure there are ten men in me and I do not know or understand one of them. I could safely declare, I am an idealist. A Parisian cynic says “I believe in nothing. I am looking for clues.” My statement would be : I believe in everything — I am only looking for proofs.
    • Incidentals (1904); this is sometimes paraphrased: “I am an idealist. I believe in everything — I am only looking for proofs.”
  • I’m an idealist. I don’t know where I’m going, but I’m on my way.
    • Incidentals (1904)
  • Under the summer roses
    When the flagrant crimson
    Lurks in the dusk
    Of the wild red leaves,
    Love, with little hands,
    Comes and touches you
    With a thousand memories,
    And asks you
    Beautiful, unanswerable questions.

    • “Under the Harvest Moon” (1916)
  • I am the people — the mob — the crowd — the mass.
    Do you know that all the great work of the world is done through me?

    • “I Am the People, the Mob” (1916)
  • 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.

    • “Chicago” (1916)
  • The fog comes
    on little cat feet.
    It sits looking
    over the harbor and city
    on silent haunches, and then moves on.

    • “Fog” (1916)
  • I want the respect of intelligent men but I will choose for myself the intelligent. I love art but I decide for myself what is art. I adore beauty but only my own soul shall tell me what is beauty. I worship God but I define and describe God for myself. I am an individual. The pleasure of my own heart shall be first to inform me when I have done good work.
    • “Egoism” as quoted by Amy Lowell, “Edgar Lee Masters and Carl Sandburg,” Tendencies in Modern American Poetry (1917)
  • Pile the bodies high at Austerlitz and Waterloo.
    Shovel them under and let me work —
    I am the grass; I cover all.

    And pile them high at Gettysburg
    And pile them high at Ypres and Verdun.

    Two years, ten years, and passengers ask the conductor:
    What place is this?
    Where are we now?

    • “Grass” (1918)
  • I tell you the past is a bucket of ashes.
    • “Prairie” (1918)
  • When Abraham Lincoln was shoveled into
    the tombs, he forgot the copperheads and
    the assassin… in the dust, in the cool tombs.

    • “Cool Tombs” (1918)
  • Tell me if the lovers are losers… tell me if any get more than the lovers.
    • “Cool Tombs” (1918)
  • Lay me on an anvil, O God.
    Beat me and hammer me into a crowbar.
    Let me pry loose old walls.
    Let me lift and loosen old foundations.

    • “Prayers of Steel” (1920)
  • Drum on your drums, batter on your banjos,
    sob on the long cool winding saxophones.
    Go to it, O jazzmen.

    • “Jazz Fantasia” (1920)
  • The Republic is a dream.
    Nothing happens unless first a dream.

    • “Washington Monument by Night” in Slabs of the Sunburnt West (1922)
  • The name of an iron man goes round the world.
    It takes a long time to forget an iron man.

    • “Washington Monument by Night” in Slabs of the Sunburnt West (1922)
  • Look out how you use proud words.
    When you let proud words go, it is not easy to call them back.
    They wear long boots, hard boots.

    • “Primer Lessons” (1922)
  • The little girl saw her first troop parade and asked,
    “What are those?”
    “Soldiers.”
    “What are soldiers?”
    “They are for war. They fight and each tries to kill as many of the other side as he can.”
    The girl held still and studied.
    “Do you know … I know something?”
    “Yes, what is it you know?”
    “Sometime they’ll give a war and nobody will come.”

    • “The People, Yes” (1936)
  • The people will live on.
    The learning and blundering people will live on.

    They will be tricked and sold and again sold.
    And go back to the nourishing earth for rootholds.

    • “The People, Yes” (1936)
  • The people know the salt of the sea
    and the strength of the winds
    lashing the corners of the earth.
    The people take the earth
    as a tomb of rest and a cradle of hope.
    Who else speaks for the Family of Man?

    • “The People, Yes” (1936)
  • Man’s life? A candle in the wind, hoar-frost on stone.
    • The People, Yes (1936)
  • Man is a long time coming.
    Man will yet win.

    Brother may yet line up with brother:
    This old anvil laughs at many broken hammers.
    There are men who can’t be bought.

    • “The People Will Live On” (1936)
  • A baby is God’s opinion that life should go on. A book that does nothing to you is dead. A baby, whether it does anything to you, represents life. If a bad fire should break out in this house and I had my choice of saving the library or the babies, I would save what is alive. Never will a time come when the most marvelous recent invention is as marvelous as a newborn baby. The finest of our precision watches, the most super-colossal of our supercargo plants, don’t compare with a newborn baby in the number and ingenuity of coils and springs, in the flow and change of chemical solutions, in timing devices and interrelated parts that are irreplaceable. A baby is very modern. Yet it is also the oldest of the ancients. A baby doesn’t know he is a hoary and venerable antique — but he is. Before man learned how to make an alphabet, how to make a wheel, how to make a fire, he knew how to make a baby — with the great help of woman, and his God and Maker.
    • Remembrance Rock (1948), Ch. 2, p. 7
  • If she forgets where she came from, if the people lose sight of what brought them along, if she listens to the deniers and mockers, then will begin the rot and dissolution.
    • On America, in Remembrance Rock (1948), epilogue, Ch. 2, p. 1001.
  • Poetry is the opening and closing of a door, leaving those who look through to guess about what is seen during a moment.
    • “Tentative (First Model)” Definitions of Poetry” in Complete Poems (1950)
  • I see America, not in the setting sun of a black night of despair ahead of us, I see America in the crimson light of a rising sun fresh from the burning, creative hand of God. I see great days ahead, great days possible to men and women of will and vision …
    • Interview with Frederick Van Ryn, This Week Magazine (January 4, 1953), p. 11. Sandburg previously used these words at a rally at Madison Square Garden, New York City (October 28, 1952), praising Adlai E. Stevenson during the latter’s 1952 presidential campaign. Reported in The Papers of Adlai E. Stevenson (1955), vol. 4, p. 175.
  • The United States is, not are. The Civil War was fought over a verb. Orval Faubus don’t know that. But he gonna know, he gonna know.
    • Comments at the centennial celebration of the Lincoln-Douglas debates; Knox College, Galesburg, Illinois, Oct. 7, 1958. Quoted in Herbert Mitgang, “Again—Lincoln v. Douglas”, The New York Times Magazine, Oct. 19, 1958, pp. 26-27.
  • Time is the coin of your life. You spend it. Do not allow others to spend it for you.
    • Declaration at his 85th birthday party (6 January 1963), as quoted in The Best of Ralph McGill : Selected Columns (1980) by Ralph McGill, edited by Michael Strickland, Harry Davis, and Jeff Strickland, p. 82
    • 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.
      • As quoted without source in The School Musician Director and Teacher Vol. 43 (1971) by the American School Band Directors’ Association
  • One of the greatest necessities in America is to discover creative solitude.
    • As quoted in Peter’s Quotations: Ideas for Our Time‎ (1977) by Laurence J. Peter, p. 448
  • I never made a mistake in grammar but one in my life and as soon as I done it I seen it.
    • As quoted in A Dictionary of Literary Quotations‎ (1990) by Meic Stephens

Leave a Reply

Scroll Up
%d bloggers like this: