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Chicago Poems

4.02 of 5 stars 4.02  ·  rating details  ·  1,577 ratings  ·  60 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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The Complete Poems by Emily DickinsonLeaves of Grass by Walt WhitmanShakespeare's Sonnets by William ShakespeareThe Waste Land and Other Poems by T.S. EliotAriel by Sylvia Plath
Best Poetry Books
78th out of 1,505 books — 1,672 voters
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100 Best American Authors
99th out of 503 books — 428 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,595)
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Lavinia
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,
Maybe.

At times, reading Chicago Poems feels like reading prose; not the short and witty stuff I expected. The city gets mythical p
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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
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Mjm
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
Connie  Kuntz
I read this from my Kindle, which was great, but today, Joce and I went to the library to get the real thing. I suspected the format of the poetry was messed up in electronic format, and I wanted to know for myself and the kids what the poems looked like in their pristine forms. The librarian offered to help us and said she remembers reading Sandburg in school when she was a kid, which was probably forty or so years ago. She mentioned remembering "the fog coming in on little cat feet." Both Joce ...more
Jimmy
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:

MASSES
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
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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
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Matt
I picked up this book not knowing anything about Sandburg beyond a passing familiarity with the name and perhaps a few forgotten poems from an anthology in a high school Lit class. This collection features several discreet sections often arranged loosely around a theme and sometimes identified as written within a certain period. The poetry itself is easy to follow, in case you're the type to be baffled by anything identified as verse. He has the tone of Whitman, the rhythm of Carlos Williams.

San
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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
Mike
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
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Joe
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
Brianna
So many good poems in here, and so many dull ones too. I liked the collection of "Chicago Poems" and "War Poems" best, and didn't care for the collection called "Fogs and Fires" (too saccharine, too many colors, especially purple; the world isn't as purple as you think it is, Carl Sandburg).
Jess
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.
Adrian Fulneczek
Faces tired of wishes
Empty of dreams...
Emma
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
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Jason Gibbons
Snatch off the gag from thy mouth, child,
And be free to keep the silence.
Tell no man anything for no man listens,
Yet hold thy lips ready to speak.

3.5 stars
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
Erin
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
J.M. Hushour
The Dover books are always so great: a cursory look at Sandburg's poetry, perhaps best represented here by the title run and his other urban, half-nightmare creations. I consider him one of the most important American poets ever and it's a shame that he seems to have fallen by the wayside over the last few decades. America embodied in dark lyricism. If "The Wire" was a poet, it'd be someone like Carl Sandburg.
Gerri R.
Still good, even after all these years!
Yuuki Nakashima
I read this collection of poetry without any preliminary knowledge of the poet and his works, and I did enjoy it.
"Mill-Doors", "Anna Imroth", "Chamfort" and "Last Answers" are my favorites.
Rll52013_andrea
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.

http://ed2dq.com/2011/12/29/carl-sandbur...
http://ed2dq.com/2011/12/27/carl-sandbur...

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.

edmund
Zach
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.
Valissa
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.
...more
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.
Lori
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.
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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".

For more info see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_San...
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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.”
46 likes
Passers-by

Passers-by,
Out of your many faces
Flash memories to me
Now at the day end
Away from the sidewalks
Where your shoe soles traveled
And your voices rose and blent
To form the city’s afternoon roar
Hindering an old silence.

Passers-by,
I remember lean ones among you,
Throats in the clutch of a hope,
Lips written over with strivings,
Mouths that kiss only for love,
Records of great wishes slept with,
Held long
And prayed and toiled for:

Yes,
Written on
Your mouths
And your throats
I read them
When you passed by.”
1 likes
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