I decided to check out a classic of American poetry from Minerva “Chicago Poems” by Carl Sandburg.
I know he is one of Kurt Vonnegut’s favorite authors, and I know he is one of the poets of America and even more the Midwest and especially Chicago. The man who nicknamed Chicago “The City of Big Shoulders.”
Here are some of my favorites from the book.
And it’s from 1916, the edition I got from the Rockport Public Library looks to be from 1925.
Desolate and lone
All night long on the lake
Where fog trails and mist creeps,
The whistle of a boat
Calls and cries unendingly,
Like some lost child
In tears and trouble
Hunting the harbor’s breast
And the harbor’s eyes.
Lovely, short, beautiful and completely takes you to the fog of the harbor. Amazing.
I asked professors who teach the meaning of life to tell
me what is happiness.
And I went to famous executives who boss the work of
thousands of men.
They all shook their heads and gave me a smile as though
I was trying to fool with them.
And then one Sunday afternoon I wandered out along
the Desplaines river
And I saw a crowd of Hungarians under the trees with
their women and children and a keg of beer and an
Makes me think of Kurt Vonnegut’s line .. “If this ain’t nice I don’t know what is” from “A Man Without a Country.” Sometimes the simplest things are the best.
And a last poem for now, a much harsher one.
Once when I saw a cripple
Gasping slowly his last days with the white plague,
Looking from hollow eyes, calling for air,
Desperately gesturing with wasted hands
In the dark and dust of a house down in a slum,
I said to myself
I would rather have been a tall sunflower
Living in a country garden
Lifting a golden-brown face to the summer,
Rain-washed and dew-misted,
Mixed with the poppies and ranking hollyhocks,
And wonderingly watching night after night
The clear silent processionals of stars.
Dark, stark, humane and beautiful even with squalor. Amazing.
I don’t know if I will ever reach the heights of Carl Sandburg, but I am thankful his words are written down.
Which writers make you thankful?