Chicago Poems
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Chicago Poems

3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  1,370 ratings  ·  50 reviews
Chicago Poems (1916) was Carl Sandburg's first published book of verse. Written in the poet's unique, personal idiom, these poems embody a soulfulness, lyric grace and a love of and compassion for the common man that earned Sandburg a reputation as a poet of the people.

Among the dozens of poems in this collection are such well-known verses as Chicago, Fog, To a Contemporar...more
Paperback, 88 pages
Published May 20th 1994 by Dover Publications (first published 1916)
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Community Reviews

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I thought I liked Sandburg. I read Maybe many years ago and it seemed funny, witty and different. And short, by all means. (Not in this volume)

Maybe he believes me, maybe not.
Maybe I can marry him, maybe not.

Maybe the wind on the prairie,
The wind on the sea, maybe,
Somebody, somewhere, maybe can tell.

I will lay my head on his shoulder
And when he asks me I will say yes,

At times, reading Chicago Poems feels like reading prose; not the short and witty stuff I expected. The city gets mythical p...more
Peycho Kanev
Well, by far on of the greatest collections ever of one of the greatest American poets. I really love it, not only because I live in Chicago.

And here is my little contribution to this great city:

One Poet in Chicago

This city is scary and supreme.
Its shiny lakeshore with white yachts
and seagulls and herons, tilting
quietly upon the marble waves.
The hard-blowing wind,
licking the rind of the imposing trees.
Those crazy and beautiful people,
walking up and down the streets,
as the Sears tower pierces t...more
C. Hollis Crossman
Chicago is the most American of cities, and Sandburg is among the most American of poets. His strong, oily, rough, brittle, acrid, hilarious, roughneck, tender odes to Chi-town are celebrations, indictments, and love-letters.

Whitman may have invented free verse, but writers like Sandburg perfected it. These poems would lose their impact written in any other form.

Here's the essence of Sandburg's genius: he writes tough and manly songs without sacrificing the true poetic element, and he sings the...more
Sandburg unequivocally stands alongside the very greatest of American Poets, not least because the same author who gives us one of most celebrated examples of modern poetry, a verse so universal that my mother would recite it to me before I'd learned to read (i.e. THE fog comes / on little cat feet. / It sits looking / over harbor and city / on silent haunches / and then moves on.) and yet could produce work as profound as any metaphysical poet, drawing the tension between the mundane and the et...more
I used to write poetry like this in college. Thankfully, I no longer do. As poetry goes, it's not very good. But in a time when we have Republicans cutting food stamps and Headstart while sucking up to the rich, Carl Sandburg is a breath of fresh air.

Like these:

by Carl Sandburg

AMONG the mountains I wandered and saw blue haze and
red crag and was amazed;
On the beach where the long push under the endless tide
maneuvers, I stood silent;
Under the stars on the prairie watching the Dipper...more
Black Heart
For "Chicago Poems" I guess I was expecting something more. The definition of this "City of Big Shoulders" and a mythology one could cling to, the way New Yorkers define themselves against the rest of the world.

Carl Sandburg was the namesake for the junior high school I attended, in a suburb of Chicago. There were two other middle schools in that suburb, one *almost* named after a famous English statesman (Winston Churchill; Churchville's close, right?) and the other after... god knows whom (may...more
H. Anne Stoj
This is probably my favorite collection of Sandburg's poetry, though I like so much of his work that it's hard to decide in truth. Living outside of Chicago and being familiar with it and with the prairieland as well, the images always strike home. For years I drove downstate, passed endless twists of barbed wire, corn, bleached barns and Sandburg always came to mind. He comes to mind often when I'm in the city. Particularly when I'm on the train there and watching the towns pass by before reach...more
Muscular, moving, and heartfelt poetry, filled with observations and images that kept this reader up late at night to finish the book. Sandburg, to whom we owe so much, gets lost in the roll call of the greats these days. He is mentioned; nodded at, more like, but we'd be wiser, in these times of turmoil, inchoate distress, and inequality, to slow down and give Father Carl another look. His poetry more than holds up; we are all standing on it in American letters this very day.
Robbie Pruitt
Chicago Poems, by Carl Sandburg, is an amazing collection of poetry.

Mr friend Janeen recently visited Chicago and took some brilliant photos. After looking at them, I felt as if I was there. Though I have never been to Chicago, the reality of the place was clearly and beautifully presented in her photography.

This is the case with Chicago Poems as well. In Chicago poems, Carl Sandburg snaps beautiful and poetic pictures of Chicago and her people. We get a glimpse of humanity and travel back in ti...more
Mar 19, 2008 Joe rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: shake hands with simple poetry
Shelves: poetry
I lost my notes for this book and I'm pissed about that. From what I can see, Sandburg stands somewhere between the populism of Whitman and that of Phil Levine. He's at his best when employing an expansive line and listing away. Yet, pointing the way to Levine, his enthusiasm is more tempered than Whitman's, his embrace a little more stiff and a little less subversive. His poems are shorter than Whitman's and the non logical leaps that the lists allow are a little less surprising. The last half...more
Feb 23, 2014 Jess rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jess by: American Lit
Certainly one of the more bitter, honest poetry volumes I've read in a long time.

Refreshing, actually.
Feb 13, 2013 Emma rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: poetry
I really have always adored Sandburg's geographical poetry, and the poetry he does about people. There's really something about "Chicago" that gets me - the fact that it is what everyone says it is, it's awful and terrible but it's also proud and shining and good, and that resonates with me and how I feel about my own hometown.

I hadn't realized, however, how much of an impact his war poems would have. It's not the same sense of death in the trenches that other WWI poets (like, say, Owen or Sasso...more
Chris Johnson
The "Nigger" usage and black stereotyping aside, lol, this is a hell of a book of prose. Short and sweet, but very complex at times where a 10 line poem will take you 3, 4 minutes to divulge via the strength of metaphor. Carl Sandburg obviously a racist, I could see meant "well" I guess writing of black folk in his poems. But hell, this was 1916! for goodness sakes, lol, every white person was pretty much racist then. But still, Sandburg was top 5 or so, maybe even higher, of WORLD poets of his...more
Carl Sandburg's Chicago poems are iconic and depict Chicago during the Industrial Revolution as a big city earning its name. This collection would work well with high school students studying the era as well as in a poetry unit study imagery and tone. After students have analyze Sandburg's poems, the could go on a field trip and visit the various areas of the city that Sandburg was referring to and compare their current state. They could then compare the two and create their own works based upon...more
I always used these poems when teaching our Chicago unit. They are true genre crossover poems in the way they teach what this city is known for…it was Sandburg who coined so many ideas about Chicago that we take for granted today. You don't have to be an adult to understand this Pulitzer prize winning poet; kids can really soak in his ideas and "feel" Chicago, the "HOG Butcher for the World" and the "City of the Big Shoulders."
Edmund Davis-Quinn
Aug 18, 2012 Edmund Davis-Quinn rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Poetry fans
Recommended to Edmund by: Saw GoodReads piece on poetry
Shelves: kindle, library, poetry
Checked this out of the library.

Also got on the Kindle despite really bad formatting.

Muscular amazing poetry.

Actually made 2 blog posts out of it this week.

Should finish this tomorrow.

90% of the way thought now.

Evocative, clear and brilliant.

A must read 85 years later.

I need to read more Sandburg.

Jun 13, 2011 Zach rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2011
a handful of gems (the first and last series, "chicago poems" and "other days," are the best of the seven) but many of the poems here are wholly average.

sandburg tries to channel whitman here, but even at its best it feels a little sanitized, and a lot of the poems end just as they begin to gain momentum. i'll try another sandburg at some point - probably a late-period book - but this one didn't quite satisfy.
Matthew Metzdorf
A few excellent poems. Some decent ones. A larger amount of unmemorable ones.
LET a joy keep you.
Reach out your hands
And take it when it runs by,
As the Apache dancer
Clutches his woman.
I have seen them
Live long and laugh loud,
Sent on singing, singing,
Smashed to the heart
Under the ribs
With a terrible love.
Joy always,
Joy everywhere—
Let joy kill you!
Keep away from the little deaths.
Claire Clayborn
This book is a collection of poems, written in a prose manner. The book was published in the early 1900's and written by Carl Sandburg. This collection of poems depicts Chicago through the eyes of the author. For a vast majority of the book, the poems are about Chicago, but Sandburg also delves into issues of that time period such as love and death.
carl sandberg is a man who knows the midwest. even if he speaks of it from the early 1900's, he is speaking directly to me and to the fields and the cities and the towns and the quailty of life i have grown up in. his words are not magic, but his vision is a sheer portrayel of the middle of our country like no one i have ever read before.
It's actually been about a year since I read this, so I'll have to check it out again, but it's really one of the best poetry books I've ever read. (And yes, I've read more than one.) Sandburg captures the feel of people and cities just as compellingly as Robert Frost captures the feel of nature and nostalgic Americana.
I wasn't too impressed with this little collection of poems. There was very few that I liked, although all were well written. They were either not dismal enough or uninspiring at times. There were maybe two or three that I really liked and that was all. Oh well better luck next time...
Joy Barr
I love you, Carl Sandburg. Like Whitman's Americana glorification, Chicago Poems esteems those blue collars that worked their asses off to forge my favorite city. And you can feel the architecture and the sewer steam. Best read while listening to Sufjan Stevens's Illinoise.
A short book for those of us who aren't wild about poetry. My favorites: Chicago (this is the "hog butcher" poem; Halsted Street Car (because I've been on Halsted); Margaret (every parent should read this one--Margaret is Sandburg's daughter); and of course, Fog.
Sep 16, 2007 Peter rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: the midwest
Shelves: poetry
I love this book. Sandburg captures the city and the people and a time period in a language that is startlingly easy to follow and understand. There is much celebration and study of the worker, the woman, and the immigrant. What is this guy some kind of a commie?
Carl Sandburg is my favorite poet and this is by far my favorite collection of poems. He gives a hard unforgiving but obviously respectful look into the second city and the midwest. The intensity of life in a great urban sprawl. Great poetry.
Some really beautiful pieces in this. My favorites were from the section entitled, "handfuls." Short little brain snacks yum yum yum! As someone who moved here for school, it made me feel closer to Chicago in a way.
Eloquent, elegant, compassionate, gritty and genuine. Sandburg celebrates the common man like Whitman might have, had Whitman not spent most his time celebrating himself.
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Carl August Sandburg was an American writer and editor, best known for his poetry. He won two Pulitzer Prizes, one for his poetry and another for a biography of Abraham Lincoln. H. L. Mencken called Carl Sandburg "indubitably an American in every pulse-beat".

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More about Carl Sandburg...
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“Give me hunger, pain and want,
Shut me out with shame and failure
From your doors of gold and fame,
Give me your shabbiest, weariest hunger!

But leave me a little love.”
“I cannot tell you now;
When the wind's drive and whirl
Blow me along no longer,
And the wind's a whisper at last -
Maybe I'll tell you then
some other time.”
More quotes…