I had a post planned for today–my first profile of another person in a long, long time. (This book stuff is taking up much of my brain space lately and it’s hard to make room for anything else. For instance, the other day, I made plans to pick up my sister, head to the Y, and work out. I did make it to the Y, I was just alone and my sister was left looking out the window for me.)

But, the interview had to be rescheduled so I’m saving it for the near future. It’s a fantastic story about WWII; fans of Unbroken are gonna love it.

So for today, a different Monday morning meeting: if you haven’t yet met Carl Sandburg’s Chicago, I’d like to introduce you. It was first published 100 years ago this month:

Carl Sandburg circa 1956  (Photo by George Tames/Getty Images)
Carl Sandburg circa 1956
(Photo by George Tames/Getty Images)


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.


Source: Poetry (March 1914).



7 responses to “Chicago”

  1. Julia Munroe Martin Avatar

    Sandburg is amazing. But wow, I can’t believe it was published 100 years ago. Incredible. So glad you shared this! (Sorry for the brain fog…I’ve been suffering from a bit of that myself so I can empathize!)

    1. Jessica Vealitzek Avatar

      I actually thought the poem was older, not sure why. And as for the brain fog, I’m starting to understand why I often see writers step away from the online world for awhile…hard to get any writing done otherwise!

  2. macjam47 Avatar

    Thank’s for posting this. It’s been a long time since I’ve read any of Carl Sandburg’s amazing work. When I was in school, eons ago, both Sandburg and Robert Frost were still living. It was such an honor then, as well as today, to read their work.

    1. Jessica Vealitzek Avatar

      I love Robert Frost, too. My dad used to read his poetry to me when I was a girl.

      1. macjam47 Avatar

        What a beautiful memory of your childhood!

  3. Tina @ Girl with a New Life Avatar

    The launch of a new book is a crazy time. I look forward to watching your journey unfold.

    1. Jessica Vealitzek Avatar

      Thanks – and if you have any pointers on keeping sane, let me know!

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