Carl Sandburg Chicago Analysis | Summary, Themes, Historical Background, About The Poet

Carl Sandburg Chicago Analysis: “Chicago” is written by Carl Sandburg, and it is about the U.S. city of Chicago. It was first published in March 1914 in Poetry, the first of nine poems collectively titled “Chicago Poems.”

‘Chicago’, which is no less treated, uncovers his adoration for the city. He gives teeth for teeth to individuals who offer one-sided analysis about his city. The actual sonnet is a run-of-the-mill illustration of working-class life that existed in Chicago.

More often than not, the city is seen hazier due to prostitution, craving, and murders in metropolitan territories. Notwithstanding, regardless of the haziness, the artist says that Chicago is as yet a prosperous city.

Students can also check the English Summary to revise with them during exam preparation.

Summary of Carl Sandburg Chicago Analysis

The sonnet starts with various jobs of a normal person in Chicago, from “Hog Butcher” to a “Stacker of Wheat”. It, at that point, continues to depict how the city has seen ladies tricking men, men executing humanity and those experiencing hunger, yet remaining parts delightful with its cheerful nature, singing and joyful making individuals labouring over their few positions.

The city is wild and fabricates and modifies under unpleasant conditions but then figures out how to come out pleased as the “Hog Butcher” and the “Stacker of Wheat”.

“Chicago” prompted Carl Sandburg’s artistic ascent, and its regular idyllic verification and confidence in the American way of life later turned into Sandburg’s trademark verse highlights. The initial refrain is a severe symbolism of the various jobs individuals have in the city. Chicago is exemplified as a ‘Hog Butcher’ with its ‘big shoulders’.

The accompanying lines sum up the indecencies and occasions of shamefulness in the city, combined with a dynamic air regardless of these. Chicago is maintained as a properly pleased and solid city, contrasting it with the courage of a contender canine.

The artist is unmistakably infatuated with the city’s average workers and its vivid air where individuals benefit as much as possible from what they have and seemed to be bold prize-warriors even with its positions including prostitution and kids starving in the city.

Carl Sandburg Chicago Analysis

Analysis of Chicago gives the reader knowledge into how Sandburg observes America’s energy, regardless of the multitude of wars and Chicago as the focal point of its development.

It discusses unfathomable energy, about the adoration forever, about the zing and chuckling that Sandburg found in the city. Like some other city, it also has its clouded side, yet the city snickers despite its horrendous fate.

Lines 1 to 5

“Hog Butcher for the World,


City of the Big Shoulders:

The initial five lines of the sonnet is an address to the city. He calls it with names that depict different positions and the business known for Hog Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with rail lines, Nation’s freight handler.

Further, the sonnet embodies the city to a nonchalant young fellow, husky, brawling with large shoulders. The verse gives the general allure of the city to be a husky and fairly hard nature man.

Line 6 to 9

“They tell me you are wicked and I believe them, for I have seen your painted women.

Have seen the marks of wanton hunger”

These lines portray what individuals say about Chicago, and he sounds to be in concurrence with them. ‘They’ alludes to individuals who censured Chicago for its negative sides. Utilizing ‘You’, ‘I’, and ‘they’ make this sound like a sensational speech. Individuals who the artist address as ‘they’ call the city ‘wicked’ for the painted ladies (prostitutes) draw the blameless young men to go with them, and the artist concurs, for he has seen it himself.

At that point, they call it abnormal, for in the city, the roughs are permitted to go openly with weapons and to execute individuals, and the artist concurs as well. They additionally call the city as fierce, for it has caused ladies and youngsters to starve for food, and the writer answers in the arrangement, for he has seen it notwithstanding ladies and kids.

Lines 10 to 13

“And having answered so I turn once more to those who sneer at this my city, and I give

them back the sneer and say to them:

Fierce as a dog with tongue lapping for action, cunning as a savage pitted against the wilderness.”

Lines 10-13 is a writer’s reaction to individuals who scoff at his city and discussion just about the negative side. He concedes that his city has imperfections in the past lines; in these lines, he reacts to the adversaries and haters that his city is more than what they know and no not exactly some other city.

He requests that those individuals show him a city that keeps its head high, the person who is fiery, solid, and shrewd. The following line projects Chicago as a baseball player who reliably hits for power, particularly homers and duplicates among the less lively and less dynamic urban communities.

Further, he thinks about Chicago to a ‘fierce dog’ whose tongue is ‘lapping for action’ consistently prepared to assault, and like a ‘cunning savage’, he will battle his way through the wild.

Lines 14 to 18



Building, breaking, rebuilding,

In lines 14-18, the writer represents the city to a bareheaded man and engaged with development. It represents that the city is flourishing and developing each day. Shovelling, Wrecking Planning, Building, Breaking, and rebuilding alludes to how Chicago grew its viewpoints. ‘Bareheaded’ shows how the city needed to function its route alone with no help.

Lines 19 to 22

“Under the smoke, dust all over his mouth, laughing with white teeth,


Bragging and laughing that under his wrist is the pulse, and under his ribs the heart of the people


Lines 19-22 further clarify Chicago as a man in real life and inaction. Despite every one of the handworks, smoke, and dust, it has figured out how to laugh. It doesn’t ponder the weight yet giggles like a youngster who snickers without giving much significance to the weight the fate has pushed onto him.

The city giggles like an oblivious warrior who has never lost a fight, boosting his force. The expressions ‘under his wrist is the pulse’ and ‘under his ribs, the people’s heart gives a more human way to deal with the city.

Line Twenty-three

“Laughing the stormy, husky, brawling laughter of Youth, half-naked,

Sweating, proud to be Hog Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player

with Railroads and Freight Handler to the Nation.”

Through and through, the line depicts Chicago as a hopeful youngster who has figured out how to be cheerful, altogether circumstances. ‘Stormy, husky, brawling laughter’ gives the city an individual coarse nature.

The expressions’ Hog Butcher’, ‘Tool Maker’, ‘Stacker of Wheat’, ‘Player with Railroads’, and ‘Freight Handler’ have abstained, to summarize, that the accepts its personality – genuine appearance and nature of an average man.

Carl Sandburg Chicago

Use of Figurative Language

The sonnet is protective, sure, and patronizing in tone. The selections of words and how the sonnet sequenced, notwithstanding following no legitimate rhyme plan or meter, portray presents in the voice of a coarse average man.

Carl Sandburg Chicago Analysis Themes

Progress, social-authenticity, and appreciation are the significant topics found in the sonnet. The city is advancing in itself by building and reconstructing in the midst of all the analysis it got. It has its own positive just as negative sides.

It is heaping many positions and growing its points of view by building rail lines. By and large, the sonnet makes a feeling that the city is extreme, forceful, blissful, intense, shrewd, and wild. The artist respects the city’s energy, and he acknowledges the city for what it’s worth.


Sandburg personifies the city to a common person, a personality of Chicago’s life around then. Like a commoner who does a wide range of occupations professionally, the city furnishes with a promising circumstance after a promising circumstance – from butchering to managing the payloads.

It resembles a man who works bareheaded, not stressing over securing his head, a young fellow who doesn’t try to think about the job of predetermination, and an uninformed contender who flaunts his prosperity he raucous laughter.

Form and Meter

“Chicago” is written in free verse without pursuing any customary poem structure. It neither has a rhyme plot nor meter. The sonnet doesn’t follow a specific stanza structure yet isolated into two sections. It is conversational in technique with Enjambed sentences, which successfully pass on the writer’s feelings.

Use of Imagery

Sandburg liberally utilized imagery to give a clear depiction of the city, Chicago. Device Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with Rail lines and the Nation’s Freight Handler and Under the smoke, dirt all over his mouth, laughing with white teeth imagines the city to be a working-class working man altogether the perspectives: Voice, Tone, Appearance, Nature.

Carl Sandburg Chicago Analysis Historical Background

The historical foundation is more significant for a reader to comprehend the sonnet’s complexities and the poem’s temperament. The sonnet is set on the roads of early twentieth-century Chicago and portrays widely the way of life of individuals who live here.

They range from humble workers to influential men to frivolous hoodlums in Chicago’s breezy and bombastic city. The writer embodies the city from multiple points of view, and before its finish, it appears to be less similar to a city and more like a cheerful man working around the spot.

The city is depicted truly as an infrastructural place, just as a real individual in that period. This is most likely to make it more relatable to a few pages of the crowd, even the individuals who are unconscious of Chicago or USA conditions in general during the twentieth century.

Conclusion on Carl Sandburg Chicago Analysis

The sonnet “Chicago” is a ‘tribute’ for the city of the very name that depicts it as being made individuals who buckle down the entire day and in a real sense “make it”. The writer considers Chicago a bold and pleasing city regardless of every one of its inadequacies. He sets out the lesson of living by how one ought not to allow the dull background to influence our demeanour to our current lives.

About Carl Sandburg

Carl Sandburg was an American writer brought into the world in Galesburg, Illinois, to Swedish foreigner guardians in 1878. The family was impoverished and Carl, alongside them, maintained odd income sources in his adolescent years.

Later in school, his composing was valued and distributed by a strong teacher, Philip Green Wright. Even though he doesn’t recognize it, he has degrees from Lombard, Knox College and Northwestern University.

He moved to Chicago and was significantly engaged with numerous distributions of his verse, including an investigation of Abraham Lincoln, for which he was granted a Pulitzer Prize.