by Carl Sandburg
Chicago Visions of Chicago Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Line)
Building, breaking, rebuilding, (13-17)
Here, Chicago seems to be in a never-ending cycle of "building, breaking, rebuilding." This is how the city (indeed, any city) grows. There is as much destruction as there is construction. This is really important to the speaker: the life of a city is constantly moving, moving, moving forward. And remember, this poem is written in the early twentieth-century, when the entire nation was industrializing, not just Chicago. Everywhere is building, breaking, rebuilding.
Laughing even as an ignorant fighter laughs who has never lost a battle,
Bragging and laughing that under his wrist is the pulse, and under his ribs the heart of the people,
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. (20-23)
Finally, Chicago is portrayed as a laughing, burly, brawling, strong young man. Chicago may be filled with wickedness, but the speaker locates it as a hub of America. It's right in the middle of the country, and it's more vibrant, bustling, and fierce than any other city. Take that, New York, Boston, and/or San Fran!