Tag Archives: Sandburg

Saturday: Cityof Broad Shoulders

9 Jun

My brudder wuz gonna go ta da store, so he axed if I wanded ta come with. He goes, “Wanna go grab some brewskis and some pop bafore da game?” We cut true the gangway an seen a couple two tree guys from da old neighbahood at da Jewels, over by dere. Now, day don’t know we seen ’em, so don’t go sayin’ nothin’ if’n youse see ’em on da street. We don’t want no trouble. We ain’t got no extra brahts er Polish. Jeeze, da Sox er playin’ da Cubs in da Crosstown. So, shud up already, willya?

My last day in Chicago. (Sigh!) If you can’t read the paragraph above, den you ain’t from Chicago. The Windy City, Chi-Town, Second City, or the City of Broad Shoulders, any way you look at it or any name you give it, it’s “My Kind of Town.”

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photo: smart destinations.com

Chicago
BY CARL SANDBURG
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,
Bareheaded,
Shoveling,
Wrecking,
Planning,
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!
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.
Source: Poetry (March 1914).