City of Big Shoulders
Carl Sandburg was one of the greatest of American writers and poets. He describes the hardscrabble nature of Chicago in his poem of the same name, referencing the “City of the Big Shoulders” and assailing critics who only care to see crime, poverty, and moral decay. Sandburg responds:
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 the Hog Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with Railroads and Freight Handler of the Nation.