|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:||5|
|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.||10|
|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,||20|
|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.|
Carl Sandburg's "Chicago"
published 1916 in Chicago Poems
I haven't been in Chicago much since I went to Navy boot camp there in the late '60's. I think I have only been there once a few years ago for a one day business trip that involved a meeting at a hotel by the airport. Since I was 19 years old and making a something like $60 a month before taxes I don't have fond memories of the place. I spent a lot of time in the Museum of Science and Industry as I recall and didn't do much else. The ride into Chicago proper from the Naval Training Center used to take a good chunk out of our little bit of money so it was a treat to go "into town". It was also the dead of winter and spending a lot of time out of doors in Chicago in January and February is tough. If I have time I might drive up to Waukegan and North Chicago and see how much it has changed in 40 years.
I will check in with you guys from the hotel tonight. BTW this is probably one of my favorite poems of all times and I love that I got a chance to post it and read it. It just sort of rolls over you like the city must have at the turn of the century.