Carl Sandburg and the critics : the incompleteness of contemporaneous views
Carter, Charlotte Radsliff
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The criticism of Carl Sandburg's poetry by three contemporary critics is examined by the writer of this paper in the light of the standards set by the leaders of the "New Poetry" movement which began in 1910, and by the poetic theory of Keats and Coleridge, who are literary forebears of the movement. Stuart Sherman, a traditional critic, considers Sandburg's poetry good when like Whitman, bad when like the Imagists, but always insincere because not consistent. Carl Van Boren analyses Sandburg's poetry seeking to find its interior pattern. He finds rapture and irony and tenderness in it and calls Sandburg an artist and a thinker. Michael Yatron relates Sandburg to the political Populist group of the end of the nineteenth century, says the poetry is journalistic propaganda in the cause of this party's ideals, and that its literary value is low. Yatron says the poetry will not last and that it is lacking in intellectual rigor, poetic diction, clear characterization, and universality. By explicating four poems, the writer of this paper seeks to point out that the poems have form, prosodic elements, modern poetic diction, evolutionary imagery, universal symbol, and an eschatological view. It is the stand taken by this writer that the Sandburg poetry is the product of art, that it has beauty, dignity, universality, poetic concept, evidence of passion and poetic skill, and that it will endure as literature.