Carl Sandburg and the Games | Bleader

Friday, April 17, 2009

Carl Sandburg and the Games

Posted By on 04.17.09 at 05:13 PM

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe

Carl Sandburg died in 1967, so it's rather hard to know his take on the city's bid for the 2016 Olympics.

Nonetheless, one of our readers suggests (scroll down to the bottom) that the poet would support Mayor Daley's Olympic efforts, offering up Sandburg's classic "Chicago" as evidence of why we should plow on with plans to spend billions and chew up the parks

The lines supposedly in favor of the games come near the end of the poem, when Sandburg writes: "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."

Of course, his darker take on the town comes a few lines earlier, when he talks about "your painted women under the gas lamps luring the farm boys" and "the gunman kill and go free to kill again" and "the marks of wanton hunger" on "the faces of women and children."

At the very least, I think it's unfair to write off Sandburg as some sort of bubble-headed booster, at least in comparison to Nelson Algren. In writing about "Chicago" and "The Windy City," another Sandburg classic, biographer Harry Golden notes: "Both poems make essentially the same point. While the city is a bold enterprise on the part of men, it is also an enterprise which corrupts natural emotions. For some, the corruption is almost total."

Sounds familar, doesn't it? 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Comments (10)

Showing 1-10 of 10

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-10 of 10

Add a comment

More by Ben Joravsky

  • Listen to <em>The Ben&nbsp;Joravsky Show</em>

    Listen to The Ben Joravsky Show

    The Ben Joravsky Show is streamed Tuesdays through Fridays between 1 and 3 PM and airs live on the Chicago Reader and Sun-Times websites. It is also released as a podcast each afternoon after the live show.
    • May 29, 2020
  • Be like Mike

    Be like Mike

    Imagine if Jordan, not Obama, was the leader of the Democratic Party.
    • May 26, 2020
  • A category of one

    A category of one

    Albert Dickens: the coolest cat in the newsroom
    • May 19, 2020
  • More »

The Bleader Archive

Popular Stories