Talking About Style with Carl Sandburg

In my renaissance poetry class last week we talked about how mankind really only has so many stories. I mean, we seem to think they are endless, but truly we often tell the same stories over and over. We change the names, a few details, but honestly, there are no new stories to be had. What is unique is the style, the way the tale is told. That’s what makes it interesting.

This discussion had me thinking of this Carl Sandburg piece from the Chicago Poems. It reminds me why I am no longer in a workshop with teenagers questioning my technique. 🙂


STYLE—go ahead talking about style.  
You can tell where a man gets his style just as you 
can tell where Pavlowa got her legs or Ty Cobb his 
batting eye.  
    Go on talking.  
Only don’t take my style away.  
      It’s my face.         
      Maybe no good  
          but anyway, my face.  
I talk with it, I sing with it, I see, taste and feel with it, I 
know why I want to keep it.  
Kill my style  
            and you break Pavlowa’s legs,         
            and you blind Ty Cobb’s batting eye. 

- Carl Sandburg

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