Deep Lines

T. S. Eliot (left) and Carl Sandburg (right)

In the January 19, 1980 edition of the New York Times Book Review, editor T. O’Connor Sloane III told the following story:

Many years ago, when Robert Giroux was editor-in-chief of Harcourt, Brace, he told me this little anecdote. He was expecting a visit from T. S. Eliot one day, and he knew that Carl Sandburg was going to be in the offices at the same time. Mr. Giroux made what arrangements he could to keep the two from meeting face to face, because he knew that the poets were not mutual admirers. When he returned to his office from lunch, to his horror he saw Sandburg and Eliot there, glaring at each other from opposite corners. “Your face has deep lines,” Sandburg was saying to Eliot. I later told this little story to Melville Cane, the lawyer and poet. He said, “If I had been Eliot, I would have said to Sandburg, ‘I can’t say the same for your poetry.'”

One thing that can be learned from this exchange is that lawyers know their stuff when it comes to riling up people. Oh, and Mr. Cane was a poet as well, so…

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My name Edmark M. Law. I work as a freelance writer, mainly writing about science and mathematics. I am an ardent hobbyist. I like to read, solve puzzles, play chess, make origami and play basketball. In addition, I dabble in magic, particularly card magic and other sleight-of-hand type magic. I live in Hong Kong. You can find me on Twitter` and Facebook. My email is

9 thoughts on “Deep Lines

  1. I didn’t realize there was animus between Sandburg and Eliot, but I found this delicious bit in a 1989 Chicago Tribune piece: “Both Sandburg and Robert Frost covet the Nobel Prize, which neither will win (because they are too ”local”). But both men will be hung with medals and honors and draped with degrees, and both will rage and fume at the likes of T. S. Eliot outdistancing them with what Carl calls Eliot`s ”chow mein.”


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