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"Chicago" by Carl Sandburg

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Lily Wang

on 3 December 2014

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Transcript of "Chicago" by Carl Sandburg

"Chicago"
by Carl Sandburg

Thesis
Structure
Analysis
Conclusion
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.
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5





10




15




20




25




30


Free Verse
The first and last stanza are repeated (with some variation)
Words/phrases are repeated throughout the poem
ex.
"sneer" (line 9)
"cunning" (lines 10, 12)
"laughing" (lines 18-13)
Blunt/straightforward tone
"Chicago" by Carl Sandburg uses a free verse structure and an unsophisticated description of Chicago to convince its reader of the hidden strength its people have. Sandburg uses the counterpoint of his argument to strengthen his own views, leaving the reader to realize that characterizing Chicago by its reputation is only scratching the surface.
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.
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2
3
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5
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9
10
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12
13
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18
19
20
21
22
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24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
meat-packing industry
tool-making,
grain
railroads
nickname, coined by Sandburg
fake, promiscuous
evil, immoral
attracting, enticing
twisted, criminal
Lines 1-5
Lines 6-11
Lines 12-24
Lines 25-30
Lines 31-33
cruel, violent, merciless
deliberate, promiscuous
"Yes, they are correct by saying that Chicago contains immoral, twisted, violent, promiscuous people."
Info About the Author
1878-1967
most of his poetry was free verse
some compared him to a late Walt Whitman, they both wrote admirably about the working class
spent a large portion of his life working various jobs in Chicago
rude, crude
sturdy, well-built
skilled, devious
Chicago vs. the rest of Illinois
industrialization, "Great Chicago Fire" in 1871
dirty vs. clean
death,
life
irony
the narrator is laughing out of pride and contempt, not to mock it's critics
boasting, celebrating
"underneath all of the surface errors and negative events, there is a foundation of pure and undiminished potential that the people have"
added in, different from lines 1-5
Using a free verse structure and heavily nuanced language, Sandburg empowers the city of Chicago and the people that inhabit it, especially the working class that makes up the majority of the city. Sandburg proves to his readers that Chicago is a city unlike any other because it takes pride in both the good and bad aspects of its community.
Works Cited
"Carl Sandburg." Poetry Foundation. Poetry Foundation, May 2002. Web. 30 Nov. 2014. <http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/carl-sandburg>.
Marcus, Sarah S. "Encyclopedia of Chicago." Encyclopedia of Chicago. Chicago Historical Society, 2005. Web. 01 Dec. 2014. <http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/410146.html>.
Sandburg, Carl. "Poetry Magazine." Poetry Foundation. Poetry Foundation, 16 Mar. 1914. Web. 01 Dec. 2014. <http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poem/2043>.
"To those who criticize my city, I ask them to find another city that is as confident and proud to be who they are despite its many problems."
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