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Freedom's Plow

When a man starts out with nothing,
When a man starts out with his hands
Empty, but clean,
When a man starts to build a world,

Langston Hughes
Song At Sunset

Splendor of ended day, floating and filling me!
Hour prophetic-hour resuming the past!
Inflating my throat-you, divine average!
You, Earth and Life, till the last ray gleams, I sing.

Walt Whitman
For Selma

In places like
Selma, Alabama,
Kids say,
In places like

Langston Hughes
Brass Spittoons

Clean the spittoons, boy.
Atlantic City,

Langston Hughes
Burbank With A Baedeker: Bleistein With A Cigar

Tra-la-la-la-la-la-laire-nil nisi divinum stabile
est; caetera fumus-the gondola stopped, the old
palace was there, how charming its grey and pink-
goats and monkeys, with such hair too!-so the

T. S. Eliot

April doesnt hurt here
Like it does in New England
The ground
Vast and brown

Jack Kerouac
Fear Is What Quickens Me


Many animals that our fathers killed in America
Had quick eyes.

James Arlington Wright
Old Indiany. Intended For A Dinner Of The Indiana Society Of Chicago

Old Indiany, 'course we know
Is first, and best, and most, also,
Of all the States' whole forty-four: -
She's first in ever'thing, that's shore! -

James Whitcomb Riley

-Albert Parsons
went to his death
singing Annie Laurie;
didn't another have

Lola Ridge
Picnic Boat

Sunday night and the park policemen tell each other it
is dark as a stack of black cats on Lake Michigan.
A big picnic boat comes home to Chicago from the peach
farms of Saugatuck.

Carl Sandburg

NEITHER rose leaves gathered in a jar-respectably in Boston-these-nor drops of Christ blood for a chalice-decently in Philadelphia or Baltimore.

Cinders-these-hissing in a marl and lime of Chicago-also these-the howling of northwest winds across North and South Dakota-or the spatter of winter spray on sea rocks of Kamchatka.


Carl Sandburg

I became a criminal when I fell in love.
Before that I was a waitress.

I didn't want to go to Chicago with you.

Louise Gluck
A Proper Trewe Idyll Of Camelot

Whenas ye plaisaunt Aperille shoures have washed and purged awaye
Ye poysons and ye rheums of earth to make a merrie May,
Ye shraddy boscage of ye woods ben full of birds that syng
Right merrilie a madrigal unto ye waking spring,

Eugene Field
Welcome To The Chicago Commercial Club

January 14, 1880

CHICAGO sounds rough to the maker of verse;
One comfort we have--Cincinnati sounds worse;

Oliver Wendell Holmes

THEY shall arise in the States,
They shall report Nature, laws, physiology, and happiness;
They shall illustrate Democracy and the kosmos;
They shall be alimentive, amative, perceptive;

Walt Whitman

What do I want in these rooms papered with visions of money?
How much can I make by cutting my hair? If I put new heels on my shoes,
bathe my body reeking of masturbation and sweat, layer upon layer of excrement
dried in employment bureaus, magazine hallways, statistical cubicles, factory stairways,

Allen Ginsberg
A Poem For Myself

I was born in Mississippi;
I walked barefooted thru the mud.
Born black in Mississippi,
Walked barefooted thru the mud.

Etheridge Knight
Lambert Hutchins

I have two monuments besides this granite obelisk:
One, the house I built on the hill,
With its spires, bay windows, and roof of slate;
The other, the lake-front in Chicago,

Edgar Lee Masters
Three-legged Man

Well now friends you'll never guess it so I really must confess it
I just met the sweetest woman of my long dismal life.
But a friend of mine said, 'Buddy, just in case your mind is muddy,
Don't you know that girl you're fooling with is Peg-Leg Johnson's wife.

Shel Silverstein

Hog Butcher for the World,
Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler;
Stormy, husky, brawling,

Carl Sandburg
Changing Of The Seasons

Oh the changing of the seasons it's a pretty thing to see
And though I find this balmy weather pleasin'
There's the wind come from tomorrow and I hear it callin' me
And I'm bound for the changing of the seasons

Shel Silverstein
Fellow Citizens

I drank musty ale at the Illinois Athletic Club with
the millionaire manufacturer of Green River butter
one night
And his face had the shining light of an old-time Quaker,

Carl Sandburg
The Santa Fe Trail

(A Humoresque)

I asked the old Negro, “What is that bird that sings so well?”

Vachel Lindsay

Mamie beat her head against the bars of a little Indiana
town and dreamed of romance and big things off
somewhere the way the railroad trains all ran.
She could see the smoke of the engines get lost down

Carl Sandburg

(For S. A.)TO write one book in five years
or five books in one year,
to be the painter and the thing painted,
... where are we, bo?

Carl Sandburg
Carl Hamblin

The press of the Spoon River Clarion was wrecked,
And I was tarred and feathered,
For publishing this on the day the Anarchists were hanged in Chicago:
“I saw a beautiful woman with bandaged eyes

Edgar Lee Masters
To Hon Jesse Holdom Of Chicago, On Receipt Of His Picture And That Of His Baby In His Arms

Far from the great lake's pride,
Over the ocean vast,
Two faces picture, side by side,
The future and the past.

John L. Stoddard
Sunset From Omaha Hotel Window

Into the blue river hills
The red sun runners go
And the long sand changes
And to-day is a goner

Carl Sandburg
Poem (chicago)

'My age, my beast!' - Osip Mandelstam

On the lips a taste of tolling we are blind
The light drifts like dust over faces

Bill Knott
Of Him I Love Day And Night

OF him I love day and night, I dream'd I heard he was dead;
And I dream'd I went where they had buried him I love--but he was not
in that place;
And I dream'd I wander'd, searching among burial-places, to find him;

Walt Whitman
John Horace Burleson

I won the prize essay at school
Here in the village,
And published a novel before I was twenty-five.
I went to the city for themes and to enrich my art;

Edgar Lee Masters
Poems Done On A Late Night Car


I am The Great White Way of the city:
When you ask what is my desire, I answer:

Carl Sandburg

I AM a hoodlum, you are a hoodlum, we and all of us are a world of hoodlums-maybe so.
I hate and kill better men than I am, so do you, so do all of us-maybe-maybe so.
In the ends of my fingers the itch for another man's neck, I want to see him hanging, one of dusk's cartoons against the sunset.
This is the hate my father gave me, this was in my mother's milk, this is you and me and all of us in a world of hoodlums-maybe so.

Carl Sandburg
This, My Song, Is Made For Kerensky

(Being a Chant of the American Soap-Box and the Russian Revolution.)

O market square, O slattern place,

Vachel Lindsay
An Ode In Time Of Hesitation

After seeing at Boston the statue of Robert Gould Shaw, killed while storming Fort Wagner, July 18, 1863, at the head of the first enlisted negro regiment, the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts.


William Vaughn Moody
The Great Chicago Fire

The great Chicago Fire, friends,
Will never be forgot;
In the history of Chicago
It will remain a darken spot.

Julia Ann Moore
Chicago Poet

I saluted a nobody.
I saw him in a looking-glass.
He smiled--so did I.
He crumpled the skin on his forehead, frowning--so did I.

Carl Sandburg

Strange bird,
His song remains secret.
He worked too hard to read books.
He never heard how Sherwood Anderson

James Arlington Wright
Hymn For The Fair At Chicago

O GOD! in danger's darkest hour,
In battle's deadliest field,
Thy name has been our Nation's tower,
Thy truth her help and shield.

Oliver Wendell Holmes
In Flanders

Through sleet and fogs to the saline bogs
Where the herring fish meanders,
An army sped, and then, ‘t is said,
Swore terribly in Flanders:

Eugene Field

Men said at vespers: 'All is well!'
In one wild night the city fell;
Fell shrines of prayer and marts of gain
Before the fiery hurricane.

John Greenleaf Whittier
Off The Turnpike

Good ev'nin', Mis' Priest.
I jest stepped in to tell you Good-bye.
Yes, it's all over.
All my things is packed

Amy Lowell
The Beautiful Beeshareen Boy

Beautiful, black-eyed boy,
O lithe-limbed Beeshareen!
Face that finds no maid coy,
Page for some peerless queen:

Mathilde Blind
Visiting A Dead Man On A Summer Day

In flat America, in Chicago,
Graceland cemetery on the German North Side.
Forty feet of Corinthian candle
celebrate Pullman embedded

Marge Piercy
John Hancock Otis

As to democracy, fellow citizens,
Are you not prepared to admit
That I, who inherited riches and was to the manner born,
Was second to none in Spoon River

Edgar Lee Masters
An Account Of The Poem Games

In the summer of 1916 in the parlor of Mrs. William Vaughn Moody;
and in the following winter in the Chicago Little Theatre,
under the auspices of Poetry, A Magazine of Verse; and in Mandel Hall,
the University of Chicago, under the auspices of the Senior Class,-

Vachel Lindsay
The Sins Of Kalamazoo

THE SINS of Kalamazoo are neither scarlet nor crimson.

The sins of Kalamazoo are a convict gray, a dishwater drab.


Carl Sandburg
An Ode In Time Of Hesitation


Before the solemn bronze Saint Gaudens made
To thrill the heedless passer's heart with awe,

William Vaughn Moody
Chicago Weather

To-day, fair Thisbe, winsome girl!
Strays o'er the meads where daisies blow,
Or, ling'ring where the brooklets purl,
Laves in the cool, refreshing flow.

Eugene Field