Sunday, August 06, 2006

City of the Big Shoulders


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,
Wrecking, 15
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

Guess where I will be this week. Getting on a plane in a couple of hours for a week in the "Windy City". One of clients wants a week of my time to help review the application and do some additional training and evaluation of the users. This is the same client that is having me go to Beijing later in the month to do the same thing with the Asia-Pacific group. Looks like it will be a little cooler this week in the midwest so it should be fairly pleasant.

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.

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