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                 Carl Sandburg (1878-1967)


              HOG Butcher for the World,
              Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
              Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight
              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 cun-
    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,
    Braging 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.


Chicago was first published in Poetry magazine in 1914. Sandburg was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1951.

The entirety of the Chicago Poems can be found in:

  • Sandburg, Carl. Chicago Poems. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1916.

    The above poem can also be found in:

  • Hine, Daryl, and Joseph Parisi, eds. The Poetry Anthology, 1912-1977. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1978.