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by Carl Sandburg

Chicago Theme of Visions of Chicago

"Chicago" is a poem about the great city of Chicago that embraces everything that the city has to offer, from hog butchers to railroads, from construction sites to prostitutes. (Okay, so Da Bears and Michael Jordan aren't here, but that was before Carl Sandburg's time.) The poem takes in all of the city (and not just the good parts) and presents it to us joyfully—perhaps even ecstatically. The poem paints a portrait of a vibrant, cunning, wicked, joyful, laughing place, and acknowledges all of the complexities of modern city life. This Chicago is not for the faint of heart, and Sandburg wouldn't have it any other way.

Questions About Visions of Chicago

  1. Do you think that Sandburg is presenting Chicago accurately? Why or why not? 
  2. What can you tell about the speaker from his portrayal of Chicago? 
  3. Does this poem make you want to visit the windy city? Why or why not? 
  4. How much do you think that Chicago has changed from Sandburg's day to our own?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Chicago seems like a terrible, horrible, no good very bad place, filled with murderers, prostitutes, and starving people.

Chicago is an awesome city! After all, what's a city without a murderer or two?

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