Chicago Poem by Carl Sandburg


Rating: 3.7

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.

Alice In Wonderland 14 September 2009

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?

39 18 Reply

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.

24 23 Reply
Kaitlynn Lalond 19 March 2009

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.

24 23 Reply
Andrew Fernandez 19 March 2009

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.

26 20 Reply
Julia Wakeman 19 February 2009

I love how this poem shows the authors conflicting emotions about Chicago. He knows that it is a wicked, crooked, brutal city, and yet he still loves it. He will still sneer at anyone who dares insult his city.

26 19 Reply
Michael Walker 28 October 2019

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.

2 2 Reply
Elizabeth 19 August 2018

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

3 3 Reply
Elizabeth 19 August 2018

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

6 1 Reply
Marissa 17 August 2018

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.

3 2 Reply
TDogg 10 August 2018

Dude Bro is a Chicagoan! !

1 1 Reply
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