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Chicago by Carl Sandburg; an analysis of his poem and some biogra...

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Chicago by Carl Sandburg; an analysis of his poem and some biographical information.

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  • November 3, 2002
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"Chicago," written Carl Sandburg is a rousing piece of writing about the lives of people in Chicago and about the city as a whole. In 1894, Carl Sandburg's father, a laborer in the railroad yards of a small Illinois prairie town, secured a pass for his son to see Chicago. The enormous vitality of the city, as well as its economic injustices, left a deep impression on the young man that would emerge later in his groundbreaking poem "Chicago." As the son of a Swedish immigrant laborer, who in his youth had hitched rides on the rails in search of adventure and blue-collar work, Sandburg was to forge a poetry aimed at the working class, creating a masculine, energetic style that would be read by factory workers over their open lunch boxes. His poetic resources were broad -- he collected folk songs that he would play on his guitar, folk wisdom, and racy slang from working-class neighborhoods and blues lyrics as he developed an ear for the speech rhythms of the populace. Drawing from his working class roots, he built a raw-boned poetry that violated the poetic norms of the time -- he cast off inherited poetic diction and form and adopted an exuberant free verse. When "Chicago" appeared in 1914, its savage energy created an uproar as Sandburg captured the staggering vitality of the great Midwest City in a poem of nearly mythic dimensions. As opposed to other poets of his generation, Sandburg did not like to experiment with complicated syntax and images, but rather preferred to give the reader something concrete and direct. Therefore, this leaves the tone of the poem to be more serious. Sandburg writes "Chicago" in blank verse in addition to free verse. Sandburg uses anaphora in his poem in lines 6-8. "They tell me you are wicked, and I believed them... I have seen the marks of wanton hunger." He repeats the phrase "They tell me you are," this shows to the reader about how much bad stuff is being spoken about the city. Another literary device that Sandburg uses in...