poet Carl Sandburg

Carl Sandburg

#33 on top 500 poets


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.

Poem Submitted: Friday, January 3, 2003

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Rating Card

Chicago # 260 poem on top 500 Poems
3,7 out of 5
96 total ratings
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Comments about Chicago by Carl Sandburg

  • Michael WalkerMichael Walker (10/28/2019 9:21:00 PM)

    While I am not taken with 'Hog Butcher for the World', I do like 'Freight Handler to the Nation'.
    His city has rough edges and serious crimes are committed there, but he is nevertheless proud of Chicago,
    which is better than 'the/ little soft cities'. Those cities would be safer but boring, he implies.

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  • Elizabeth (8/19/2018 1:39:00 AM)

    Dont blame a city cos they kill their own . Gangsters then and gang members now.

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    3 person liked.
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  • Elizabeth (8/19/2018 1:36:00 AM)

    Marissa, no stories hidden in this poem It is honestly and brutally truthfull, like chicago.

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    6 person liked.
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  • Marissa (8/17/2018 10:56:00 PM)

    i have been doing a class and i needed to review this poem at first I thought it was really boring and now I realize that to understand this poem is to really think about all of the stories that are hidden in the poem.

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  • TDogg (8/10/2018 10:43:00 AM)

    Dude Bro is a Chicagoan! !

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  • Paul Starbuck (4/3/2018 7:18:00 PM)

    Sandburg is the quintessential American poet. No Englishman, however talented, could have written Chicago. Despite Sandburg's list of Chicago's deficits his talent ensures that we, with him, appreciate the city.

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  • Cory Henderson (12/6/2017 9:04:00 AM)

    This sucks i heard better poems

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    You Suck(5/9/2019 7:23:00 PM)

    i is supposed to be I

    Dude Bro(3/30/2018 1:39:00 PM)

    You suck you can't even criticize a poem properly.

    3 person liked.
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  • Cory Henderson (12/6/2017 9:00:00 AM)

    This sucks I have heard better poems

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    4 person liked.
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  • Elisabeth Potts (11/11/2017 5:49:00 PM)

    This poem almost vibrates off the page!

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    9 person liked.
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  • Destiny Gray (10/19/2017 12:52:00 AM)

    so is this not a book bc I have to read it and I'm trying to figure out if its a book..

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    5 person liked.
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  • Cathryn Hatle (4/2/2017 10:10:00 AM)

    Sandburg, rap hero. Here is a submerged tributary to hip hop culture.

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  • Sally Plumb Plumb (5/3/2016 4:42:00 AM)


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  • Curtis Johnson (10/17/2015 10:11:00 PM)

    I sense that Sandburg felt compelled to paint the picture of at least two cities in one. I too once lived there, loved there, laughed there, and learned there before I left there. I am grateful for having given of my life too it. I loved Chicago, and I also feared it, but I also became a man in Chicago. City of contrast, is it not?

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    13 person liked.
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  • Soumita SarkarSoumita Sarkar (9/6/2015 10:05:00 AM)

    the roads..the sand..the trees..the guilds....the arms..the minds...all come alive here in this city that is no ordinary....alike many on earth...Thanks.

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  • Gangadharan Nair Pulingat (10/20/2014 9:06:00 AM)

    May be it was those times the experiences of the poet about the city which is now the world's most developed city it is known. A great poem.

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    9 person liked.
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  • Alice In Wonderland (9/14/2009 9:10:00 PM)

    Right on Andrew, Chicago will never stop! This poem is great. It is a very real picture of what the city was like at that time. Yes, there was prostitution and crime and poverty and it was ugly but it was Carl Sandburgs home. Chicago is a beautiful city full of people who are proud to live there. Full of bragging arrogant people who are proud of what their city can do. So many great jobs are available in Chicago: Hog Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with Railroads, etc. Very industrial jobs. So Chicago has jobs available and the ability to reinvent itself. Who wouldn't want to be a part of this city?

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    37 person liked.
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  • Lorraine Margueritte Gasrel Black (5/15/2009 10:16:00 AM)

    Carl Sandburg wrote about the realities of life and his words breathe in his poetry.He leaves a view of a world that still holds on and yet lets go into a trip of the imagination.He is one of our great poets.

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    24 person liked.
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  • Andrew Fernandez (3/19/2009 6:27:00 PM)

    Just as Carl Sandburg describes, you have to love the windy city. I think that julia knows what she is talking about because even though it has taken many lives in many ways, you have to love the greates city in the world. Also as Alex says, Sandburg does a good job of describing the city with such great detail. Which is true because in the poem, he covers all the major things that are negative that go on in Chicago yet the good outways the bad. It seems as if Sandburg has become attached to the city itself and will defend it even if it is wrong. Just as i would becasue in my eyes, Chicago is the city that keeps going and will never stop improving itself.

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    26 person liked.
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  • Alex Maric (3/19/2009 6:15:00 PM)

    I like how the author describes the city in such great detail. He really does a good job of telling the reader of the city's corruption/ scandal. From pollution to prostitution, his intricate use of adjectives really brings the poem to life.
    Even though this poem brings up a lot of negative points about Chicago, you can tell that Mr. Carl Sandburg is fond of this city. He writes, 'Come and show me another city with lifted head singing so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning.' There are many negative things that one can mention when Chicago is brought up. However, there is far more good and many people are still proud to live in this smoke-filled, prostitute-ridden city!

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  • Kaitlynn Lalond (3/19/2009 6:07:00 PM)

    I really think Carl has an interesting perspective on Chicago. Alot of the things that he points out are all the bad things about the city: crime, prostitution, gangs and everything bad. I think that Chicago has a ton of awesome things to offer as well. The city has awesome jobs, entertainment, shopping, living and great opportunities for vistors and foreignors. I think that maybe Carl might of had a bad experience in the city, so that's the reason he's so focused on the negative. I did enjoy that Sandburg uses such vivid description and the way he explains such a great city.

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