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.
Carl Sandburg - 1878-1967
Poems Done on a Late Night Car
I. CHICKENS I am The Great White Way of the city: When you ask what is my desire, I answer: "Girls fresh as country wild flowers, With young faces tired of the cows and barns, Eager in their eyes as the dawn to find my mysteries, Slender supple girls with shapely legs, Lure in the arch of their little shoulders And wisdom from the prairies to cry only softly at the ashes of my mysteries." II. USED UP Lines based on certain regrets that come with rumination upon the painted faces of women on North Clark Street, Chicago Roses, Red roses, Crushed In the rain and wind Like mouths of women Beaten by the fists of Men using them. O little roses And broken leaves And petal wisps: You that so flung your crimson To the sun Only yesterday. III. HOME Here is a thing my heart wishes the world had more of: I heard it in the air of one night when I listened To a mother singing softly to a child restless and angry in the darkness.