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A Living And Breathing Dedication Essay

739 words - 3 pages

Carl Sandburg’s “Chicago” elaborates on the wonders and horrors of life in Chicago and explains a proud city-dweller’s love for his city when Chicago was still a young, new city. “Chicago” is from a collection of Sandburg’s poems entitled Chicago Poems, in which Sandburg expresses his political beliefs and poetic thoughts (Van Wienen). The poem takes on the tone of the hustling and bustling city, shifting from explanations of criticism to moments of pride and back again. His purpose in the poem is to show every part of the speaker’s city, the good and the bad, and to show the speaker’s and all loyal Americans’ love for their cities. In “Chicago,” Carl Sandburg utilizes the form of an apostrophe, personification, and free verse to comment on this idea of the true American city experience. It is meant to exemplify “the way that Americans derive their national identity from their local experience” (Cone).
Sandburg’s speaker in this poem, who most likely represents himself and all lovers of Chicago, is directly addressing the city of Chicago, making this entire poem an apostrophe. Many times throughout the poem, the speaker refers to the city by saying “you” such as in line six which states, “They tell me you are wicked and I believe them, for I have seen your painted women under the gas lamps luring the farm boys” (6). By writing the poem as an apostrophe, Sandburg gives the city life, as if he is speaking to a person, which then furthers the use of personification in the poem.
Personification is what propels this poem forward with its morphing of a city into a living and breathing and laughing man. This personification can be found all throughout the poem, but most specifically in lines eighteen through twenty-three, where the speaker describes a man with sparkling white teeth who is laboring under the smoke and dust and “Bragging and laughing that under his wrist is a pulse, an under his ribs the heart of the people” (23). Sandburg’s written personification of Chicago serves his purpose of showing the American city experience, by exemplifying the life of the city and how the people of Chicago embraced the dirt and...

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