Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's Bête Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Sunday, October 24, 2004


In his review of Dylan’s “Chronicles” in the NYTimes Book Review today, Tom Carson disses the more-dissed than discussed Carl Sandburg. Dude, Sandburg was the shizzle.

2 paths of positivity betwixt Dylan & Sandburg.

1. Sandburg was a terrific poet. Not always, but often. The wry laconic every-guy persona that Dylan adapted from Woody, Woody got at least partly from Sandburg. Dylan’s early poem to Woody is in the same vein as Woody’s rambling non-song poems, which are in the same vein as Sandburg’s poems. In one of his poems, Woody acknowledges Sandburg as a pre-cursor (as did, coincidentally, and equally aptly, the founder of the poetry slam, a man named Mark Somebody whose last name escapes me right now). Sandburg’s discussions of the folk songs he collected in the late 1920s in his terrific book “American Songbag” often sound like Guthrie himself, 10 years ahead of time.

2. Carson mentions that in his book Dylan alludes to one of the most hagiographic mythographies devoted to himself, “The Old Weird America” by Greil Marcus. In his book, Marcus mentions that he borrowed the title from the great poet Kenneth Rexroth, adapting his phrase “the old free America” to his own purposes. Rexroth was a great fan of Sandburg’s (and of Dylan’s).

Here’s a poem called “Gone” from Sandburg’s first book, published in 1916. Unfortunately, I haven't figured out how to tab-indent material on this blog, so Sandburg's proto-Beat indented page lay-out is getting left-margin-justified in this rendition.

Everybody loved Chick Lorimer in our town.
Far off
Everybody loved her.
So we all love a wild girl keeping a hold
On a dream she wants.
Nobody knows now where Chick Lorimer went.
Nobody knows why she packed her trunk . . . a few old things
And is gone,
Gone with her little chin
Thrust ahead of her
And her soft hair blowing careless
From under a wide hat,
Dancer, singer, a laughing passionate lover.

Were there ten men or a hundred hunting Chick?
Were there five men or fifty with aching hearts?
Everybody loved Chick Lorimer.
Nobody knows where she’s gone.

Try blockquote as a tag to indent.
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