Carl Sandburg

(6 January 1878 – 22 July 1967 / Illinois)


Hog Butcher for the World,
Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler;
Stormy, husky, brawling,
City of the Big Shoulders:

They tell me you are wicked and I believe them, for I
have seen your painted women under the gas lamps
luring the farm boys.
And they tell me you are crooked and I answer: Yes, it
is true I have seen the gunman kill and go free to
kill again.
And they tell me you are brutal and my reply is: On the
faces of women and children I have seen the marks
of wanton hunger.
And having answered so I turn once more to those who
sneer at this my city, and I give them back the sneer
and say to them:
Come and show me another city with lifted head singing
so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning.
Flinging magnetic curses amid the toil of piling job on
job, here is a tall bold slugger set vivid against the
little soft cities;

Fierce as a dog with tongue lapping for action, cunning
as a savage pitted against the wilderness,

Building, breaking, rebuilding,

Under the smoke, dust all over his mouth, laughing with
white teeth,
Under the terrible burden of destiny laughing as a young
man laughs,
Laughing even as an ignorant fighter laughs who has
never lost a battle,
Bragging and laughing that under his wrist is the pulse,
and under his ribs the heart of the people,


Laughing the stormy, husky, brawling laughter of
Youth, half-naked, sweating, proud to be Hog
Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with
Railroads and Freight Handler to the Nation.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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Comments about this poem (Chicago by Carl Sandburg )

  • Gold Star - 24,508 Points Gangadharan Nair Pulingat (10/20/2014 9:06:00 AM)

    May be it was those times the experiences of the poet about the city which is now the world's most developed city it is known. A great poem. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Alice In Wonderland (9/14/2009 9:10:00 PM)

    Right on Andrew, Chicago will never stop! This poem is great. It is a very real picture of what the city was like at that time. Yes, there was prostitution and crime and poverty and it was ugly but it was Carl Sandburgs home. Chicago is a beautiful city full of people who are proud to live there. Full of bragging arrogant people who are proud of what their city can do. So many great jobs are available in Chicago: Hog Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with Railroads, etc. Very industrial jobs. So Chicago has jobs available and the ability to reinvent itself. Who wouldn't want to be a part of this city? (Report) Reply

  • Gold Star - 5,611 Points Lorraine Margueritte Gasrel Black (5/15/2009 10:16:00 AM)

    Carl Sandburg wrote about the realities of life and his words breathe in his poetry.He leaves a view of a world that still holds on and yet lets go into a trip of the imagination.He is one of our great poets. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Andrew Fernandez (3/19/2009 6:27:00 PM)

    Just as Carl Sandburg describes, you have to love the windy city. I think that julia knows what she is talking about because even though it has taken many lives in many ways, you have to love the greates city in the world. Also as Alex says, Sandburg does a good job of describing the city with such great detail. Which is true because in the poem, he covers all the major things that are negative that go on in Chicago yet the good outways the bad. It seems as if Sandburg has become attached to the city itself and will defend it even if it is wrong. Just as i would becasue in my eyes, Chicago is the city that keeps going and will never stop improving itself. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Alex Maric (3/19/2009 6:15:00 PM)

    I like how the author describes the city in such great detail. He really does a good job of telling the reader of the city's corruption/ scandal. From pollution to prostitution, his intricate use of adjectives really brings the poem to life.
    Even though this poem brings up a lot of negative points about Chicago, you can tell that Mr. Carl Sandburg is fond of this city. He writes, 'Come and show me another city with lifted head singing so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning.' There are many negative things that one can mention when Chicago is brought up. However, there is far more good and many people are still proud to live in this smoke-filled, prostitute-ridden city! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Kaitlynn Lalond (3/19/2009 6:07:00 PM)

    I really think Carl has an interesting perspective on Chicago. Alot of the things that he points out are all the bad things about the city: crime, prostitution, gangs and everything bad. I think that Chicago has a ton of awesome things to offer as well. The city has awesome jobs, entertainment, shopping, living and great opportunities for vistors and foreignors. I think that maybe Carl might of had a bad experience in the city, so that's the reason he's so focused on the negative. I did enjoy that Sandburg uses such vivid description and the way he explains such a great city. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Julia Wakeman (2/19/2009 9:45:00 PM)

    I love how this poem shows the authors conflicting emotions about Chicago. He knows that it is a wicked, crooked, brutal city, and yet he still loves it.
    He will still sneer at anyone who dares insult his city. (Report) Reply

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