Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Today, we had planned to go to Great America. We woke up to thunderstorms and it rained all morning.

The children asked to go to the library, so we loaded up our books & dashed through the rain to the library. I thought, while I was there, I'd quick find a book with a poem about rain in it for poetry wednesday.

Ya, right.

I glanced through the children's poetry section. I looked through the adult poetry section. I should have googled it or something. I came home with The Oxford Book of American Verse (copyright 1950), because it was thick, and I figured I could find something about rain.

Well, I did! Something incomprehensible, written by Mr. Edward Taylor, who lived 1645-1729.

So, on went the hunt. Now it's quite sunny and the children are dressed for the beach. A poem about rain didn't seem to fit.

Then I found this one from Carl Sandburg. I have never lived in the city itself, but I appreciate it from afar (ie, the suburbs).

(Side note: I visited my sister's office downtown a few years ago and her colleague asked me if I was in from out-of-town. I said, "Well, I guess I am if you consider the suburbs 'out-of-town'." She laughed and answered, "Yes, actually, I do!"

this is for my sister - who loves the city and the UP with equal fervor)

Carl Sandburg

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.

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 course and strong and cunning.

Flinging magnetic curses amid the toil of piling job on job, here is a told 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 is 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.


Kris Livovich said...

What a great poem! It captures the excitement and fun and danger of Chicago perfectly. I've always loved Chicago. Even as a kid, growing up in Mexico, I always thought Chicago was the most exotic exciting place you could be.

Beth Hanna said...

My first glimpse (that I remember) of Chicago was as a very scared, very UNAMERICAN, nineteen year old, having arrived from my HOME country of Mexico to study in this big foreign city! And I've grown to love it! Not every corner of it, but Chicago as a whole. After all, that's where I was born!