Study Guide

Chicago Love

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We usually think about love as being between human beings. You probably love your parents, your boyfriend, your great-grandma. But Sandburg, well, this dude loved Chicago. And not even just its people. He loved the whole big, messy, brutal city in all of its complexity, and he loved it as much for its faults as for its strengths. In some ways, "Chicago" is a really intense (though not exactly heartwarming) love poem for a brutish man that is the figure for the city itself. And we can't help but wonder: can Chicago ever love the speaker back?

Questions About Love

  1. How is love for a city different than love for a human being? 
  2. Can you really ever love something that can't love you back?
  3. Is calling "Chicago" a love poem really going overboard? Is Sandburg just excited about the power of the city?

Chew on This

Cue the power ballads. "Chicago" is totally a love poem. The speaker puts Chicago on a pedestal, and is majorly obsessed with it.

Woah! Pump the breaks, pal. Yes, the speaker is obsessed with Chicago, but calling the work a love poem is going way too far. You can't love a city the way you can love another human being.

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