Contextual Analysis Of Carl Sandburg's Poetry

1326 words - 5 pages

When I first read some of Carl Sandburg’s poetry, I could appreciate the poems but only at face value. It was not until after I learned more about him and about the state of the world during the time that these poems were first published did I learn to appreciate them for their deeper meaning. My maternal great-grandparents were both immigrants from Ireland and once they came to the United States, they chose to live in Chicago, Illinois. My family still has very strong ties with the city and the culture that brings it to life. Carl Sandburg has a strong connection to the culture of the city of Chicago as well. He was the son of Swedish immigrants and held many low paying jobs after he dropped out of school at the age of thirteen. The historical and cultural context also gives his writing a greater meaning and allows the reader to give in to their emotions and connect not only to the words and to the author but also to the people that he so passionately writes about.During the early 1900’s, many European immigrants came to the city of Chicago and this rapid growth in population and diversity helped to shape the city that we know today. Carl Sandburg’s poems, “Anna Imroth” and “Working Girls”, show a different side of the industrial workers and focus more on the female workers and the harsh conditions that surrounded them. Many immigrants that came to America lived in large industrial cities because farming equipment was very expensive and agriculture was very different from what they were used to. Sandburg like many Americans worked odd jobs from laying bricks to dishwashing to help his family make ends meet. He even served eight months in Puerto Rico during the Spanish-American war. While serving he met a student at Lombard College who convinced Sandburg to enroll in classes after he returned home after the war. During his time at Lombard, he caught the attention of Professor Philip Green Wright who paid for Sandburg’s first volume of writing to be published. After moving to Chicago Sandburg became an editorial writer for the Chicago Daily News and Harriet Monroe, who started Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, published Sandburg’s poetry. Monroe described Sandburg’s writing as, “Whitman-like”(poets.org) with his use of “homely speech”(poets.org). During this time, Sandburg was accepted as a member of the Chicago Literary Renaissance, which included Ben Hecht, Theodore Dreiser, Sherwood Anderson, and Edgar Lee Masters. Through their writing they portrayed the“contemporary urban environment, decrying the loss of traditional rural values in the increasingly industrialized and materialistic American society and the failure of the romantic promise that hard work would automatically bring material and spiritual rewards.”(Encyclopædia Britannica)From 1912 to 1925 the Chicago Literary Renaissance not only nurtured and provided a platform for young writers to thrive but also...

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