With each song he gave verbal footnotes .
The songs Sandburg sang often reminded listeners of songs of a kindred character they knew entirely or in fragments .
Often these listeners would refer Sandburg to persons who had similar ballads or ditties .
In due time Sandburg was a walking thesaurus of American folk music .
After he had finished the first two volumes of his Lincoln , Sandburg went to work assembling a book of songs out of hobo and childhood days and from the memory of songs others had taught him .
He rummaged , found composers and arrangers , collaborated on the main design and outline of harmonization with musicians , ballad singers , and musicologists .
The result was a collection of 280 songs , ballads , ditties , brought together from all regions of America , more than one hundred never before published : The American Songbag .
Each song or ditty was prefaced by an author's note which indicated the origin and meaning of the song as well as special interest the song had , musical arrangement , and most of the chorus and verses .
The book , published in 1927 , has been selling steadily ever since .
As Sandburg said at the time : `` It is as ancient as the medieval European ballads brought to the Appalachian Mountains , it is as modern as skyscrapers , the Volstead Act , and the latest oil well gusher '' .
Schopenhauer never learned
Sandburg is in constant demand as an entertainer .
Two things contribute to his popularity .
First , Carl respects his audience and prepares his speeches carefully .
Even when he is called upon for impromptu remarks , he has notes written on the back of handy envelopes .
He has his own system of shorthand , devised by abbreviations : `` humility '' will be `` humly '' , `` with '' will be `` w '' , and `` that '' will be `` tt '' .
The second reason for his popularity is his complete spontaneity with the guitar .
It is a mistake , however , to imagine that Sandburg uses the guitar as a prop .
He is no dextrous-fingered college boy but rather a dedicated , humble , and bashful apostle of this instrument .
At age seventy-four , he became what he shyly terms a `` pupil '' of Andres Segovia , the great guitarist of the Western world .
It is not easy to become Segovia's pupil .
One needs high talent .
Segovia has written about Carl :
`` His fingers labor heavily on the strings and he asked for my help in disciplining them .
I found that this precocious , grown-up boy of 74 deserved to be taught .
There has long existed a brotherly affection between us , thus I accepted him as my pupil .
Just as in the case of every prodigy child , we must watch for the efficacy of my teaching to show up in the future -- if he should master all the strenuous exercises I inflicted on him .
To play the guitar as he aspires will devour his three-fold energy as a historian , a poet and a singer .
One cause of Schopenhauer's pessimism was the fact that he failed to learn the guitar .
I am certain that Carl Sandburg will not fall into the same sad philosophy .
The heart of this great poet constantly bubbles forth a generous joy of life -- with or without the guitar '' .
The public's identification of Carl Sandburg and the guitar is no happenstance .
Nor does Carl reject this identity .
He is proud of having Segovia for a friend and dedicated a poem to him titled `` The Guitar '' .
Carl says it is the greatest poem ever written to the guitar because he has never heard of any other poem to that subtle instrument .
`` A portable companion always ready to go where you go -- a small friend weighing less than a freshborn infant -- to be shared with few or many -- just two of you in sweet meditation '' .
The New York Herald Tribune's photographer , Ira Rosenberg , tells an anecdote about the time he wanted to take a picture of Carl playing a guitar .
Carl hadn't brought his along .
Mr. Rosenberg suggested that they go out and find one .
`` Preferably '' , said Carl , `` one battered and worn , such as might be found in a pawnshop '' .
They went to the pawnshop of Joseph Miller of 1162 Sixth Avenue .
`` Mr. Miller was in the shop '' , the Herald Tribune story related , `` but was reluctant to have anybody's picture taken inside , because his business was too ' confidential ' for pictures .
`` But after introductions he asked : ' Carl Sandburg ? ?
Well you can pose inside .
`` He wanted Mr. Sandburg to pose with one of the guitars he had displayed behind glass in the center of his shop , but the poet eyed this somewhat distastefully .
' Kalamazoo guitars ' , he said , ' used by radio hillbilly singers .
`` He chose one from Mr. Miller's window , a plain guitar with no fancy polish .
While the picture was taken , Mr. Miller's disposition to be generous to Mr. Sandburg increased to the point where he advised , ' I won't even charge you the one dollar rental fee ' '' .
A knowledgeable celebrity
When someone in the audience rose and asked how does it feel to be a celebrity , Carl said , `` A celebrity is a fellow who eats celery with celerity '' .
This has always been Carl's attitude .
Lloyd Lewis wrote that when he first knew Carl in 1916 , Sandburg was making $27.50 a week writing features for the Day Book and eating sparse luncheons in one-arm restaurants .
He walked home at night for two miles beyond the end of a suburban trolley .
When fame came it changed Sandburg only slightly .
Lewis remembered another newspaperman asking , `` Carl , have your ideas changed any since you got all these comforts '' ? ?
Carl thought the question over slowly and answered : `` I know a starving man who is fed never remembers all the pangs of his starvation , I know that '' .
That was all he said , Lewis reports .
That was all he had to say .
In answer to a New York Times query on what is fame ( `` Thoughts On Fame '' , October 23 , 1960 ) , Carl said : `` Fame is a figment of a pigment .
It comes and goes .
It changes with every generation .
There never were two fames alike .
One fame is precious and luminous ; ;
another is a bubble of a bauble '' .
`` Ah , did you once see Shelley plain '' ? ?
The impression you get from Carl Sandburg's home is one of laughter and happiness ; ;
and the laughter and the happiness are even more pronounced when no company is present .
Carl has been married to Paula for fifty-three years , and he has not made a single major decision without careful consideration and thorough discussion with his wife .
Through all these years , Mrs. Sandburg has pointedly avoided the limelight .
She has shared her husband's greatness , but only within the confines of their home ; ;
it is a dedication which began the moment she met Carl .
Mrs. Sandburg received a Phi Beta Kappa key from the University of Chicago and she was busy writing and teaching when she met Sandburg .
`` You are the ' Peoples' Poet ' '' was her appraisal in 1908 , and she stopped teaching and writing to devote herself to the fulfillment of her husband's career .
She has rarely been photographed with him and , except for Carl's seventy-fifth anniversary celebration in Chicago in 1953 , she has not attended the dozens of banquets , functions , public appearances , and dinners honoring him -- all of this upon her insistence .
Even now I will not intrude upon her except to state a few bare facts .
The only way to describe Paula Sandburg is to say she is beautiful in a Grecian sense .
Her clothes , her hair , everything about her is both graceful and simple .
She has small , broad , capable hands and an enormous energy .
She is not only a trained mathematician and Classicist , but a good architect .
She designed and supervised the building of the Harbert , Michigan , house , most of which was constructed by one local carpenter who carried the heavy beams singly upon his shoulder .
As the Sandburg goat herd increased , she also designed the barn alterations to accommodate them .
When erosion threatened the foundation of their home in Harbert , Paula Sandburg planted grapevines and arranged the snow fences which helped hold the sands away .
She was born Lilian Steichen , her parents immigrants from Luxemburg .
Her mother called her Paus'l , a Luxemburg endearment meaning `` pussycat '' .
Some of the children of the family could not pronounce this name and called her Paula , a soubriquet Carl liked so much she has been Paula ever since .
But neither was Lilian her baptismal name .
Her parents , pious Roman Catholics , christened her Mary Anne Elizabeth Magdalene Steichen .
`` My mother read a book right after I was born and there was a Lilian in the book she loved and I became Lilian -- and eventually I became Paula '' .
Lilian Steichen was an exceptional student .
This family of Luxemburg immigrants , in fact , produced two exceptional children .
Paula's older brother is Edward Steichen , a talented artist and , for the past half-century , one of the world's eminent photographers .
( Two years ago the photography editor of Vogue Magazine titled his article about Steichen , `` The World's Greatest Photographer '' .
By the time Lilian had been graduated from public school , her parents were doing quite well .
Her mother was a good manager and established a millinery business in Milwaukee .
But her father was not enthusiastic about sending young Paula to high school .
`` This is no place for a young girl '' , he said .
The parents compromised , however , on a convent school and Paula went to Ursuline Academy in London , Ontario .
She was pious , too , once kneeling through the night from Holy Thursday to Good Friday , despite the protest of the nuns that this was too much for a young girl .
She knelt out of reverence for having read the Meditations of St. Augustine .
She read everything else she could get her hands on , including an article ( she thinks it was in the Atlantic Monthly ) by Mark Twain on `` White Slavery '' .
Paula was saddened about what was happening to little girls and vowed to kneel no more in Chapel .
She had come to a decision .
If there was ever a thought in her mind she might devote her life to religion , it was now dispelled .
`` I felt that I must devote myself to the ' outside ' world '' .
She passed the entrance examinations to the University of Illinois , but during the year at Urbana felt more important events transpired at the University of Chicago .
`` And besides , Thorstein Veblen was one of the Chicago professors '' .
At the University of Chicago she studied Whitman and Shelley , and became a Socialist .
Socialist leaders in Milwaukee recognized her worth , not only because of her dedication but because of her fluency in German , French , and Luxemburg .
She once gave a German recitation before a convention of German-language teachers in Milwaukee .
Carl and Paula met in Milwaukee in 1907 during Paula's Christmas holiday visit to her parents .
Carl was still Charles A. Sandburg .
He `` legitimized '' Paula for Lilian Steichen , and it was Paula who insisted on Carl for Charles .
Victor Berger , the panjandrum of Wisconsin Socialism and member of Congress , had asked Paula Steichen to translate some of his German editorials into English .
Carl , who was stationed in Appleton , Wisconsin , organizing for the Social Democrats , was in Berger's office and made it his business to escort Paula to the streetcar .
She left the next day for her teaching job at Princeton , Illinois .
( After graduation from the University of Chicago , Paula taught for two years in the normal school at Valley City , North Dakota , then two years at Princeton ( Illinois ) Township High School .
) By the time the streetcar pulled away , he had fallen in love with Paula .
A letter awaited her at Princeton .
Paula says that even though Carl's letters usually began , `` Dear Miss Steichen '' , there was an understanding from the beginning that they would become husband and wife .
Paula generously lent me one of Carl's love letters , dated February 21 , 1908 , Hotel Athearn , Oshkosh , Wisconsin :
`` Dear Miss Steichen : It is a very good letter you send me -- softens the intensity of this guerilla warfare I am carrying on up here .
Never until in this work of S-D organization have I realized and felt the attitude and experience of a Teacher .