Book Report: Harvest Poems 1910-1960 by Carl Sandburg (1960)

I read this collection of poems at my son. I say “at” instead of “to” because he’s getting mobile and is no longer a captive audience. Still, I pick the book up and read it at him as he plays so he can hear my voice.

Wow, I’ve read McKuen, Cohen, Dickinson, and L’Engle in the last couple of years. I’ve also worked on a small survey of John Donne (yet to be completed). In doing so, I’ve really missed out on good poetry with rhythm. These poems by Sandburg direct your cadence and really are fun to read. The turns of phrases make me pause and remember them so I can say them aloud and sound smart. As a matter of fact, I’ve used several lines from Sandburg as IM statuses, so that indicates how clever and insightful I think they are.

As its title suggests, this book collects poems from over 50 years, but most of them come from before the depression, when the poet lamenting war was still referring to World War I. Sandburg’s themes include a sort of homily to the common man in the Midwest, a distaste for war, and a belief in God. The charged themes are handled lightly enough that they’re observations and not proselytization. So they’re palatable where we differ.

As I said, this is a collection taken from several books, so it’s a step up from the poems from an author you’d find in an anthology (Yes, “Grass” is in here as is “Fog”). So if you’ve liked Sandburg from the anthologies, check this book out and see if you like the rest. Me, I liked this work so much that I’m going to look for the complete collections from which these poems were selected, and I’m also almost inspired to actually write more poetry.

Books mentioned in this review:

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