Saturday, May 18, 2024

Carl Sandburg's Library


This is Carl Sandburg's The Library, a poem from 1916.

I guess it's my library too, underneath it all.


After all, I'm a believer in libraries, and so are you.

Working with my nefarious tools I have made several songs recently about libraries, mostly from old poems. The sweet spot for nice, neat, short, rhyming poems about libraries seems to be 100 to 150 years ago. It's amazing how similar some of them are from that era. Like, check out this line from Katharine Tynan's 1911 poem, "The Library":

"The library's hush, where wisdom's treasures lie."

And then, from somewhere around that time, but I have given up on finding the exact date, there is Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch's poem "The Silent Readers" with this line:

"Through realms of old, where wisdom's treasures lie,"

And if you'll notice, Carl Sandburg's library poem today, of no sprawling length, mentions both wisdom and treasures twice each! 

 I have a few good whimsical songs I've put together about libraries and about bookworms now too, and they'll probably show up here sometime, but this library song/poem today is serious, straight up, and very Carl Sandburg, in as much as I know the poetry of Carl Sandburg. It's all very bold and grand. Maybe I have slightly mellowed that quality with a song that feels a little Sufjan Stevens at times.

A curious thing about this music video is that only after finishing it did I learn that ol' Carl Sandburg was quite the folksinger himself- a sort of Leonard Cohen prototype I reckon. He used to bring his guitar to poetry readings for goodness sake! 

I don't think he set these sorts of poems to music, but maybe he did!

And maybe this is how it goes:

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