back to home
(authors icon)1918


from Wisconsin Authors and Their Works   1918
by Charles Rounds

Among the newer and younger western poets, Carl Sandburg has attracted much attention. His verse has virility, force, clarity, and music. The poem here given won a prize of two hundred dollars offered under the auspices of "Poetry," a magazine published in Chicago. It illustrates all the qualities mentioned above. His present home is in Maywood, Illinois, but he lived for some years in Milwaukee, and married a Milwaukee girl, Lillian Steichen. He was connected with the Milwaukee Leader, and was secretary to Mayor Seidel. His political ideas are frequently reflected in his poems.



From "CHICAGO POEMS," by Carl Sandburg. Published by permission of Henry Holt & Co.

      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
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
Under the terrible burden of destiny laughing as a young man
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.

"Carl Sandburg." Wisconsin Authors and Their Works. Madison: The Parker Educational Company, 1918. 374-375.
From the GLS Department of Special Collections reference room: PS 283 W6 R6 1918.