Carl Sandburg (1878-1967)
1 HOG Butcher for the World,
2 Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
3 Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight
4 Stormy, husky, brawling,
5 City of the Big Shoulders:
6They tell me you are wicked and I believe them, for I
have seen your painted women under the gas lamps
luring the farm boys.
7And they tell me you are crooked and I answer: Yes, it
is true I have seen the gunman kill and go free to
8And 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.
9And 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:
10Come and show me another city with lifted head singing
so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cun-
11Flinging magnetic curses amid the toil of piling job on
job, here is a tall bold slugger set vivid against the
little soft cities;
12Fierce as a dog with tongue lapping for action, cunning
as a savage pitted against the wilderness,
17 Building, breaking, rebuilding,
18Under the smoke, dust all over his mouth, laughing with
19Under the terrible burden of destiny laughing as a young
20Laughing even as an ignorant fighter laughs who has
never lost a battle,
21Bragging and laughing that under his wrist is the pulse,
and under his ribs the heart of the people,
23Laughing 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.
Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department
of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services,
University of Toronto Libraries.
Original text: Carl Sandburg, Chicago Poems (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1916), pp. 3-4. PS 3537 A618C5 1916 ROBA
First publication date:
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 1998.
Recent editing: 4:2002/3/7
Form: Free Verse
Other poems by Carl Sandburg