Discover the poetry of Carl Sandburg in this installment of the Poetry for Kids series.
I remember my third grade teacher with much affection and the class called him Mr. T. It was the very first time I had a male teacher and he had moved to my little village in Appalachia from a ‘big city’. He was friendly, soft-spoken, and had a nice thick mustache. I was a very shy child and it was the first time I felt like my teacher actually CARED about what I learned and enjoyed. He read poetry to our class and when other children would snicker or joke, I would listen enraptured by the flow of the words and how they connected me with my almost obsession-like interest in song-writing. One particular poem he read, that I never forgot, was one by Carl Sandburg:
Little girl, be careful what you say
when you make talk with words, words—
for words are made of syllables
and syllables, child, are made of air—
and air is so thin—air is the breath of God—
air is finer than fire or mist,
finer than water or moonlight,
finer than spider-webs in the moon,
finer than water-flowers in the morning:
and words are strong, too,
stronger than rocks or steel
stronger than potatoes, corn, fish, cattle,
and soft, too, soft as little pigeon eggs,
soft as the music of hummingbird wings.
So, little girl, when you speak greetings,
when you tell jokes, make wishes or prayers,
be careful, be careless, be careful.
be what you wish to be
Professor and scholar Kate Benzel has carefully chosen 35 poems by Carl Sandburg that is of interest to children and their families. The book starts with an introduction to the poet and includes Sandburg’s Fog, From the Shore, Young Sea, Last Answers, A Sphinx, Little Girl.. Be Careful What You Say, Margaret, Arithmetic, Plowboy, Monotone, Phizzog, Mask, Summer Grass, Summer Stars, Sky Talk, October Paint, Old Woman, Buffalo Dust, and a Coin and Doors. This collection includes most of Sandburg’s favorite and most accessible works. Each poem is beautifully illustrated by the award-winning Robert Crawford. This gentle introduction includes commentary, definitions of key words, and an introduction to the poet’s life. Children can learn the value of their words, their thoughts, their actions through poetry; and dare to be what they wish to be.
Thank you, Mr. T., wherever you are, for introducing me to Sandburg!
Carl Sandburg was an American poet, biographer, and editor who won three Pulitzer Prizes (two for his poetry). Three of his most famous volumes of poetry include Chicago Poems, Cornhuskers, and Smoke and Steel. His poems are accessible and incredibly visual.
Kate Benzel, PhD, is a Carl Sandburg scholar and professor emerita at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, where she is currently transcribing and annotating Sandburg’s early unpublished notebooks.
List Price: $ 14.95