Carl Sandburg (1878 – 1967)

“Life is like an onion: you peel it off one layer at a time, and sometimes you weep”

 “The secret of happiness is to admire without desiring.”

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

 “Poetry is a packsack of invisible keepsakes.”

 “The moon is a friend for the lonesome to talk to”

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

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

 “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.”

 “I am an idealist. I don’t know where I’m going but I’m on my way.”

 “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.”

 “Poetry is an echo, asking a shadow to dance.”

 “I’ve written some poetry I don’t understand myself.”

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

 “Poetry is the journal of a sea animal living on land, wanting to fly in the air”

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

 “Poetry is the synthesis of hyacinths and biscuits.”

 “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.”

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

 “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.”

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

 “Love your neighbor as yourself; but don’t take down the fence”

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

 “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.”

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

 “A baby is God’s opinion that life should go on.”

 “Nothing happens unless first a dream.”

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

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

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

 “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.”

 “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?”

 “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.”

 “(Chicago) 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”

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

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

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

 “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.”

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

 “The fog comes/ on little cat feet./ It sits looking over/ harbor and city/ on silent haunches/ and then moves 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.”

 “Sometime they’ll give a war and nobody will come.”

 “The greatest cunning is to have none at all”

 “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”

 “It is the business of little minds to shrink”

 “There are people who want to be everywhere at once and they seem to get nowhere”

 “What is there more of in the world than anything else? Ends”

 “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.”

 “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.”

 “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.”

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

 “Poetry: A sliver of the moon lost in the belly of a golden frog.”

 “Revolt and terror pay a price,/ Order and law have a cost.”

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

 “Hope is an echo, hope ties itself yonder, yonder.”

 “I was up day and night with Lincoln for years. I couldn’t have picked a better companion.”

 “I’ll die propped up in bed trying to do a poem about America.”

“Men of ideas vanish first when freedom vanishes.”

 “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.”

 “We live in the time of the colossal upright oblong.”

 “Why is there always a secret singing when a lawyer cashes in? Why does a hearse horse snicker hauling a lawyer away?”

 “Nothing happens unless first we dream.”

 “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?”

 “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.”

 “The republic is a dream, Nothing happens unless first a dream”

 “The machine yes, the machine, never wastes anybody’s time, never watches the foreman, never talks back”

 “Our lives are like a candle in the wind.”

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

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