Sunday, March 04, 2007

Happy Birthday Chicago

On March 4, 1837 Chicago incorporated as a city. Happy 170th


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.

--Carl Sandburg's "Chicago"published 1916 in Chicago Poems

Where is the Chicago of Carl Sandburg and Nelson Algren?
I am afraid it been lost to the generic homogenization engineered
by corporate gluttons and the PC mafia.
Is the city that has been bought and paid for by the blood and sweat
and money of its citizens been bought out, sold out by the politicos?
Players at politics, who try to erase the history, forgetting it is the past
that made us, them, who we are; got us where we are.
But they better learn to love it, because they are it,
and it ain't going away--Bill

No comments: