In many ways Carl Sandburg lived the American dream. Born in 1878 to a Swedish immigrant couple in the prairie town of Galesburg, Illinois, young Carl worked a variety of jobs to help supplement the meager family income, His father, August Sandburg, worked ten-hour days, six days a week, for the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad. Carl ultimately was forced to drop out of school and take to the road selling stereoscopes (a hand-held device to view photographic images). Briefly he experimented with the life of the hobo and was arrested once for riding a boxcar illegally. Then he decided to enlist in the Spanish-American War of 1898, serving in the Sixth Regiment of Illinois volunteers. His fame as a poet grew steadily after the publication of The Chicago Poems (1916), and by the late 1920s he was a national celebrity with the publication of The American Songbag (1927) and Abe Lincoln Grows Up (1928). Sandburg won many literary prizes, including the Pulitzer Prize for history in 1940, awarded for his multi-volume biography Abraham Lincoln: The War Years (1939), and a Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1951, following the publication of the first edition of his Complete Poems (1950). Sandburg evolved into a complex figure, gaining fame as a poet, journalist, biographer, orator, folksinger, and performer. He also became a prominent film critic who counted Charlie Chaplin among his personal friends. Sandburg was even granted a private tour of the White House, conducted personally by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Social Democrats were influenced by European thinkers and by American "muckrakers" like Frank Norris (The Octopus) and Upton Sinclair (The Jungle), so they favored pure food and drug policies, as well as issues like safe working conditions and the control of runaway monopolies. Social Democrats supported a forty-hour week, with pay for overtime. They believed in
pensions, health benefits, and social security. They strongly endorsed educational innovation and condemned child abuse and child labor practices. All of these concerns find expression explicitly or implicitly in the poetry of Carl Sandburg, even though the young poet moved to Chicago in 1912 and by 1916 officially severed his ties with the Social Democrats—and all other political parties. The year 1916 also marked the publication of The Chicago Poems, the single book that launched Sandburg's career as a major American poet.
The title piece, "Chicago," is Carl Sandburg's signature poem, perhaps the most recognizable icon of the general arts movement known as the Chicago Renaissance. In format, theme, diction, and attitude, it shocked the readers of American poetry and changed the literary landscape forever. Sandburg and fellow avant-garde writers like Edgar Lee Masters, Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot, and Vachel Lindsay were all benefiting from the influence and support of Harriet Monroe, the visionary who founded Poetry magazine in Chicago in 1912. Written in vers libre (free verse), Sandburg's "Chicago" did not look or sound like a typical poem of the day: "Hog butcher for the World, / Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, / Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler." Sandburg, more than any of the other "modernist" writers, dealt the death blow to the prevailing style of the "Genteel Tradition" by evoking taboo subjects (urban life, prostitution, crime, and hunger). Sandburg adopted a form that was highly oratorical and relied on repetition instead of predictable iambic lines corralled into neat quatrains. Eschewing lofty language and uplifting sentiments, Sandburg forced his reader to confront the grim realities of prostitution ("painted women under the gas lamps luring the farm boys"), as well as rampant crime, hunger, and general impoverishment:
And they tell me you are crooked and I answer,
Perhaps most upsetting to the conventional reader of 1916 was Sandburg's unmediated approval of the anthropomorphized city, the "tall bold slugger," who is "fierce as a dog" and "cunning as a savage." The most critical item in Sandburg's litany of praise for this heroic builder of skyscrapers is the single word "coarse," hardly an expected term of approbation for an epic hero. Sandburg, however, uses "coarse" as code for everything that is ennobling and humanizing in daily work. Coarseness is the badge of accomplishment and survival for the American worker, suggesting calloused hands and rough shoes but also indomitable will and an unconquerable spirit:
Bragging and laughing that under his wrist is the pulse, and under his ribs the heart of the people.
This image of the pulse beating under the wrist occurs again in "Mill-Doors," where the workers are "tapped" like maple trees, drained of their vital sap:
I say good-by because I know they tap your wrists,
The workers are caught in a double-bind: work and be exploited like a slave or die of hunger like a beggar. The ditch-digging "Muckers," for example, feverishly pitch yellow mud with their shovels while trying to pull "their boots out of suckholes where they slosh." They justly complain that "mucking" is a "hell of a job," while ten unemployed onlookers sigh, "Jesus, I wish I had the job."
This focus on workers and their plight allows the poet to incorporate a number of concerns about class, ethnicity, and gender. In "Child of the Romans," for example, "the dago shovelman" eats a bologna sandwich by the side of the railroad track where he has been working. A passenger train "whirls by," carrying rich diners enjoying steaks, gravy, strawberries, cream, eclairs, and coffee. They are in a self-contained world of glass and steel, utterly inaccessible to the poor Italian. His humble job merely keeps the roses and jonquils from shaking on the tables of the speeding dining car— a telling example of the great divide in social class and ethnic status at the time. The "dago" resembles the thirty-two Greek workers in "Near Keokuk" who soak their aching feet in a cool stream after ten hours of shoveling rocks in the midsummer heat. This distancing of classes is shown literally in "People Who Must," as a man paints the roof of a skyscraper all day long while the people on the street below become "bugs" and "spots." In 'The Mayor of Gary," Sandburg draws a sharp contrast between the freshly shampooed mayor with his "cool cream pants"
The situation of the American worker receives close scrutiny in The Chicago Poems (1916) and its successors: Cornhuskers (1918), Smoke and Steel (1920), Slabs of the Sunburnt West (1922), and The People, Yes (1936). In one way or another, Sandburg faithfully returns to the American worker as an anchor for his work, a benchmark against which he can reliably measure the success or failure of the American dream. Like Whitman, he is all-inclusive in his vision, as shown in this catalog from "The Windy City":
coal passers, taxi drivers, window washers, paperhangers, floorwalkers, bill collectors, burglar alarm salesmen, massage students, manicure girls, chiropodists, bath rubbers, booze runners, hat cleaners, armhole basters, delicatessen clerks, shovel stiffs, work plugs. . .
And of all the workers, Sandburg shows a special sensitivity to the plight of women whose little children are abused by the factory system. In "They Will Say," little children are forced
To work, broken and smothered, for bread and wages,
But the mothers suffer worse fates. "Anna Imroth" is Sandburg's elegy to a factory girl who dies trying to escape from a fire because her employer had failed to install a fire escape. Sandburg pities the young women in "Working Girls" who walk to the factories by the thousands, all clutching "little brick-shaped lunches wrapped in newspapers." And in "Onion Days," he empathizes with the young Italian widow, Mrs. Pietro Giovannitti, who works all day picking onions at eight cents a box for Mr. Jasper, an upright member of the Episcopalian congregation. Jasper plans to lower her pay to six cents per box, even though her baby is due in less than three months. In the "Washerwoman" a fallen woman, now reformed, rubs underwear spotless as she "sings that Jesus will wash her sins away."
Sensitive to the change in mores, Sandburg depicts prostitution as an economically driven evil—the same way he sees racism in his prose work Chicago Race Riots, July 1919. Driven by poverty to take up life on the street, the prostitutes are cheated by their pimps and handlers as explained by the woman working "Harrison Street Court":
Never keeps nuthin
For all her hustlin.
Somebody always gets
What she goes on the street for."
Like her sisters in the sex trade, the 'Trafficker"
. . . offers passers-by what they will
Sandburg takes a radical-feminist view of prostitution, indicting as harlots all women who marry simply to acquire wealth, as he illustrates in "Soiled Dove":
Let us be honest; the lady was not a
In spite of his rock-solid marriage, and profound devotion to his three daughters (Margaret, Janet, and Helga), the first two of which had chronic, expensive medical conditions, Sandburg also takes a stand against the traditional marriage, which often resulted from immense social pressure and created despair for all involved. The sarcastic narrator in Section 49 of The People, Yes remarks that
Wedlock is a padlock.
These sentiments were dramatized earlier in "Mag," in which the husband whines,
I wish the kids had never come
These desperate utterances echoed the poems about failed marriages that virtually dominated The Spoon River Anthology (1915), composed by Sandburg's friend Edgar Lee Masters. Divorce was still frowned upon, however, and Sandburg does not endorse divorce. But finding a legal exit to impossible relationships was one of the volatile issues of his day. And by his personal example Sandburg indicates that a good marriage is worth every sacrifice. His own spouse, the former Lilian Steichen (sister of the famous photographer Edward Steichen), remained his friend, lover, and editor for nearly seven decades, as recounted by their daughter Helga Sandburg in A Great and Glorious Romance (1978).
Besides the immigrant workers, child laborers, and women in the workplace, Sandburg also turned his attention to soldiers as specialized workers. Although his patriotic poem "The Four Brothers" (France, England, Russia, and America) supported the troops in their work of killing the Kaiser's troops, Sandburg more typically decried the carnage that inevitably ensued. In "Ready to Kill," he laments the fact that bronze statues honor dead generals who made the blood flow on "the sweet new grass" when there should be statues for the workers "feeding people instead of butchering them." And in "Smoke" the poet ironically juxtaposes the comfortable consume of newspapers who sits in chair while
Millions of men go to war, acres of them are buried, guns and ships
Perhaps his most eloquent and most quoted pacifist poem is "Grass." All the great battlefield sites, Austerlitz, Waterloo, Gettysburg, Ypres, and Verdun are ultimately claimed by the simple, universal greenery, the life-force that outlasts death:
I am the grass.
When all the workers were threatened in 1929 by the Great Depression, and one of every four was put out of work, Carl Sandburg ever the champion of the working class, responded with The People, Yes (1936), taking his greatest stand and affirming the power of "Man the toolmaker, tooluser, / son of the burning quests" even in the face of a worldwide depression. The poet insists on "the destiny of man ... and the future of the human race."
All great art is interactive. It is nearly impossible for the reader to consider Carl Sandburg's poetic indictments of hunger, poverty, and the general abuse of power without also taking a stand. In a world that is shaped by global terror and multinational corporations, a world often plagued by war and broken families, his poetry still speaks eloquently. Like all great poetry, the poems of Carl Sandburg are timeless.
Carl Sandburg's poetry strongly reflects aspects of the extraordinary growth period in the United States after the Civil War through World War I. Economically and socially it shows immigrant workers dealing with both poverty and opportunity. Spiritually it shows that happiness lies in family bonds, generosity, music, and storytelling. Politically it shows the futility of war. Artistically it reflects the American Poetic Renaissance (sometimes called the Chicago Renaissance) through the establishment in 1912 of Poetry magazine in Chicago, which welcomed all poetic forms and subjects that had fresh imagery and rhythm. Overall, Sandburg reinvigorated Walt Whitman's affirmation of the American common man through colloquial language, realistic detail, haunting non-metric rhythms, and buoyant exaggeration.
Connection with the Curriculum
This material may be used to teach United States history, American literature, Chicago history, and poetry.
The activities as a whole or in part may be appropriate for the Illinois Learning Standards in Social Science 14.D.3, 4, 5; 14.E.3, 4, 5; 18.A.3, 4, 5.
The activities as a whole or in part may be appropriate for the Illinois Learning Standards in the English Language Arts 1.A. 3b, 4b, 5b; 1.B 3a, 4a, 5a; 1.C.3b, 4b, 5b; 1.C.3c, 4c, 5c; 1.C.3e, 4e, 5e; 2.A.3d, 4d, 5d; 2.B.3a, 4a, 5a; 5.C.3b.
Materials for Each Student
• The narrative portion of the article
• Copies of the activity handouts:
1. For Activity 1 the students will need a copy of the narrative portion of the article and a copy of the Activity 1 worksheet, "Woman's Club of Danville -Taking a Stand on Public Health."
Objectives for Each Student
• Recite in chorus to feel the rhythm of the personified Chicago's a) defensive stance against accusations of immorality, b) pride in its work ethic and hard physical labor, and c) laughing defiance of gentility.
SUGGESTIONS FOR TEACHING THE LESSON
Opening the Lesson
Ask how many students have heard of Carl Sandburg. How many are familiar with the poem "Chicago" or its images in the opening stanza, particularly "Hog Butcher to the World," "Player with Railroads," and "City of the Big Shoulders."
Hand out narrative portion of the article and assign as homework. Then ask students what they learned about Sandburg, what strikes them as important, interesting, or relevant to Illinois history or life today.
Make it clear that "Chicago" is one of the most famous American poems and is the cultural heritage of every Illinoisan.
Developing the Lesson
The following activities may be mixed or matched as desired or as time allows.
Activity 1 calls for performance in the choral recitation of "Chicago," It should be taken seriously, and the teacher may point out that verse choirs have their roots in Greek drama. There is great power and bonding in unison recitation. Be sure to give the students the objectives of the recitation above.
These should be the basis for inflections and tones. The entire activity may take an entire class period.
Depending on the class size, some students will participate in several groups. The class is both its own performer and audience. Practice time should be allowed. The teacher may send groups off to work on their parts while s/he directs the shouting voices. Allow time to mesh each group with the shouters.
Each group must pause at the underlined bold phrases so that the shouting voices can fit in effectively.
Movement may be added if the teacher is ambitious and the class willing. An instrumental musical background can enhance, such as Scott Joplin's "The New Rag" (1912) or "The Magnetic Rag" (1914), composed shortly before "Chicago" was published in Poetry magazine (1916). Ragtime's saucy syncopatior reflects the swaggering independence of Sandburg's city.
Activity 2 — Contemporary Chicago! allows the students to create their Chicago. Using the simple form, they should jot down the first images that come to mind. Between 3 to 5 minutes should be allowed for this after the teacher gives them examples:
Specific location: West Devon Avenue
Sights: Bolts of silk sari materials in bright colors and designs, edged in gold
Sounds: Bollywood songs; fragments of Hindi, Tamil, Urdu, Gujurathi
Smells: Indian fast food like jalabees, burfis, samosa, naan; incense
Person: A salesman calling the start of bargaining, "Only $350, Madam!"
Overall metaphor or summarizing image: Transplanted Indian marketplace
Activity 3 — Two Chicagos: Sandburg's and Cather's.
Published in 1915, Willa Cather's novel The Song of the Lark is about a Colorado girl who becomes an opera singer. Though a poor clergyman's daughter, at seventeen Thea Kronborg is given the opportunity to study music in Chicago. She has little money and is overwhelmed by the big city. She is homesick. She spends her time practicing the piano in her boardinghouse room and occasionally earning money singing at funerals.
After four months she visits the Art Institute at her landlady's suggestion. The art is like manna to her spirit, and she returns regularly.
Two months later she is given a ticket to a symphonic concert at the Auditorium, Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan's lavish concert hall with perfect acoustics, opened in 1889.
Provided in the handout for Activity 3 is an excerpt from the Auditorium concert experience. Students should read it and then compare it in small groups with Sandburg's "Chicago," using 15 to 20 minutes to write down points made within the group and 20 to 25 minutes to report to the class as a whole. For maximum effect, a secretary should record points on the board under the appropriate category. Each group should determine the tone of each work, the point of view, the three strongest images, the five most distinctive word choices.
Or, instead of discussion, assign a comparison/contrast essay for homework, two pages maximum. The essay should focus on the tone of each, the point of view in each, the specific images, vocabulary, and the student's personal responses (emotions, judgments, associations). Remind students to decide on a basic organization: whole-to-whole (one work at a time) or point-by-point (the assigned points applied to both works).
First, ...an appeal to...a public primarily interested in poetry as an art, as the highest, most complete expression of truth and beauty. Second...all kinds of verse will be considered-narrative, dramatic, lyric—quality alone being the test of acceptance....Third...we shall pay contributors. (Harriet Monroe, A Poet's Life. New York: Macmillan, 1938. 251-52.)
Monroe's magazine introduced the work not only of Sandburg but of other poets whose work marked what is called the Chicago Renaissance or the American Poetic Renaissance. These include Edgar Lee Masters, Vachel Lindsay, Wallace Stevens, Marianne Moore, and William Carlos Williams. Works by Robert Frost and T.S. Eliot were also published in Poetry.
Playing the role of assistant editors for Poetry circa 1912-16, the students can—individually or in small groups—examine several poems by Sandburg (or any other poems of the teacher's choice) and advise publication or rejection. The handout offers poems with Sandburg's frequent subject—the working man or woman. You may tell the students at the outset that the handout poems are Sandburg's, or you may wait till the conclusion of the activity.
The criteria listed for the student are reduced from Imagist guidelines presented by Ezra Pound and F. S. Flint in Poetry, March 1913 (reprinted in H. Monroe, A Poet's Life. New York: Macmillan, 1938. 296-301.)
Activity 5 — "War Posters and Poetry" gives the opportunity to consider the power of pictorial and verbal images. The handout reprints three famous war effort appeals from the government: "I Want You," "Wake Up America!" and "Lest Liberty Perish" (http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/treasures/trm015.html). In small groups the students should identify connections between the symbolic images and the strong emotions they are intended to invoke. Which symbol is the most powerful today—Uncle Sam? Sleeping Liberty? or the Statue of Liberty against a background of burning New York City? Next give the groups the copies of Sandburg's war poem samples. Again the students should identify the chief images and compare or contrast these with those in the posters. Do the images contradict each other? Can Sandburg's be called pacifist? Anti-war? Do Sandburg's poems evoke more thought than emotion?
Concluding the Lesson
For Activity 1 the students should comment on which phrases of their recitation best reflected the pride, the swagger, the defensive stance against gentility.
They should then discuss who the "I" and "they" are in the poem. How many ways can these be interpreted? Would the poem be more effective if Sandburg had just personified Chicago speaking as "I"? How many students think he lessens the effect by having a defender between Chicago and its critics? The teacher should be appreciative of their judgments.
For Activity 2 the teacher should prompt them to comment on how their images are like Sandburg's. Any? Probably "Tall bold slugger" will be one. How diverse are the images of class members? You might do a quick tally on the board to see how many chose museums and famous sights, shopping, sports, ethnic neighborhoods, relatives, Lake Michigan beach activities etc. If there are any locales exactly the same, ask if these reflect parts of Chicago that have become prominent after Sandburg's time. The Sears Tower, O'Hare Field, and North Michigan Avenue stores will probably be named.
For Activity 4 the teacher should note the common subject (working-class people) of the poems but the contrasting aspects of their lives that Sandburg has highlighted.
For Activity 5 the teacher may point out how the students in the class have differed in their responses or possibly have been in agreement. Whatever, it should be noted that Americans have usually protested wars, World War II being an exception. In World War I many German and Irish Americans criticized alliance with England.
The Viet Nam Conflict split American society with draft-resistance, building take-overs, and mass protests. Major protests marked the 2003 pre-invasion of Iraq. Poll the students for their opinion on the effectiveness of protest before a war begins and after a war has begun. Ask the students what guidelines or limits a government should make in its efforts to unify the citizens during a war. Referring to the Operation Iraqi Freedom war initiated by the Bush administration in 2003, ask students whether reporters embedded with soldiers in the field and correspondents reporting live from military headquarters make truth in war more possible. Less possible?
Extending the Lesson
Videotaping of Activity 1 or Activity 2 emphasizes the worth of the performance. Since all students are involved, it can be shown to parents at Open House or during conferences. One year's videotape also serves as a model for next year's class.
Further research may be done on Scott Joplin and ragtime music as part of the early-twentieth century American cultural renaissance.
After Activity 4 ask students if they know any poems that celebrate a hard-working person. Examples might be John Henry the Steel-Drivin' Man of folklore fame, or "The Waitress" by Billy Collins, as well as others in Sandburg's poetry such as "The Shovel Man," or Mrs. Gabrielle Giovannitti of "Onion Days." Allow later class time for these poems to be shared. Reserve a space on a bulletin board entitled "Fanfare for the Common Man" and arrange the poems under it. Students may be also encouraged to compose their own poems.
Following Activity 5 students may be asked to contribute to a wreath for Veterans Day or a wreath for Memorial Day. Each poem should 1) name the relative or identify the relationship; 2) give images to identify which war; 3) describe the relative's part or job; and 4) show the effect of the relative's participation on him or her, or on family members, or on the cause. If the student has no military relatives, a fictional or historical figure may be taken. You can read this as an example:
To my cousin Eric
All poems neatly penned or typed can be pinned on a bulletin board to a wreath of paper flowers cut from an old flower catalogue. Parents especially love to read these when visiting the classroom. Expect a spectrum of attitudes to be expressed in the poems, and point out that in America we are free to express differences and defend the right to do so.
Assessing the Lesson
All the activities may be graded for cooperation if the teachers desires. Ideally, they are their own rewards; the teacher may single out the successful aspects for praise to the class.
If the essay suggested in Activity 3 is assigned, it should be graded according to usual standards for organization, intellectual quality, and clarity.
Recited harmonies of the voice are no less impressive than sung ones. Careful articulation of consonants, unison, and rising or falling inflections as directed are essential for effectiveness.
In "Chicago" you should feel and should make listeners feel the physical power of a Chicago that is boastfully proud and joyful about its hard manual work and swaggeringly uncaring of the loose morality and seaminess that pervades it. To do this, first group the class accordingly and place the members of each group standing together:
• 4-5 deep, low voices which will speak the underlined, bold words throughout the poem. Their tone should be almost a shout, reflecting the coarse assertiveness of the city.
Fierce as a dog with tongue lapping for action, cunning as a savage pitted
against the wilderness,
Building, breaking rebuilding,
(All Sandburg poems reprinted here are from The Complete Poems of Carl Sandburg. Revised and Expanded Edition. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1970.)
Overall metaphor or summarizing interpretation:
Or write a two-page essay on the similarities and differences between the Chicago of Sandburg's poem and Thea Kronborg's. Consider tone, point of view, word choices, images, and personal responses.
Harsanyi had given Thea a ticket for the symphony concert that afternoon, and when she looked out at the white apple trees her doubts as to whether she ought to go vanished at once. She would make her work light that morning, she told herself. She would go to the concert full of energy. When she set off, after dinner, Mrs. Lorch, who knew Chicago weather, prevailed upon her to take her cape. The old lady said that such sudden mildness, so early in April, presaged a sharp return of winter, and she was anxious about her apple trees.
The concert began at two-thirty, and Thea was in her seat at the Auditorium at ten minutes after two—a fine seat in the first row of the balcony, on the side, where she could see the house as well as the orchestra. She had been to so few concerts that the great house, the crowd of people, and the lights, all had a stimulating effect. She was surprised to see so many men in the audience, and wondered how they could leave their business in the afternoon, During the first number Thea was so much interested in the orchestra itself, in the men, the instruments, the volume of sound, that she paid little attention to what they were playing. Her excitement impaired her power of listening. She kept saying to herself, "Now I must stop this foolishness and listen; I may never hear this again"; but her mind was like a glass that is hard to focus. She was not ready to listen until the second number, Dvorak's Symphony in E minor, called on the programme, "From the New World." The first theme had scarcely been given out when her mind became clear; instant composure fell upon her, and with it came the power of concentration. This was music she could understand, music from the New World indeed! Strange how, as the first movement went on, it brought back to her that high tableland above Laramie; the grass-grown wagon trails, the far-away peaks of the snowy range, the wind and the eagles, that old man and the first telegraph message.
When the first movement ended, Thea's hands and feet were cold as ice. She was much too excited to know anything except that she wanted something desperately, and when the English horns gave out the theme of Largo, she knew that what she wanted was exactly that. Here were the sand hills, the grasshoppers and locusts, all the things that wakened and chirped in the early morning; the reaching and reaching of high plains the immeasurable yearning of all flat lands. There was home in it, too; first memories, first mornings long ago; the amazement of a new soul in a new world; a soul new and yet old, that had dreamed something despairing, something glorious, in the dark before it was born; a soul obsessed by what it did not know, under the cloud of a past it could not recall....
When Thea emerged from the concert hall, Mrs. Lorch's predictions had been fulfilled. A furious gale was beating over the city from Lake Michigan. The streets were full of cold, hurrying, angry people, running for street-cars and barking at each other. The sun was setting in a clear, windy sky, that flamed with red as if there were a great fire somewhere on the edge of the city. For almost the first time Thea was conscious of the city itself, of the congestion of life all about her, of the brutality and power of those streams that flowed in the streets, threatening to drive one under. People jostled her, ran into her, poked her aside with their elbows, uttering angry exclamations. She got on the wrong car and was roughly ejected by the conductor at a windy corner in front of a saloon. She stood there dazed and shivering. The cars passed, screaming as they rounded curves, but either they were full to the doors, or were bound for places where she did not want to go. Her hands were so cold that she took off her tight kid gloves. The street lights began to gleam in the dusk. A young man came out of the saloon and stood eyeing her question-ingly while he lit a cigarette. "Looking for a friend to-night?" he asked. Thea drew up the collar of her cape and walked on a few paces. The young man shrugged his shoulders and drifted away....
Willa Cather. The Song of the Lark (1915). New York: Penguin Putnam, 1999. (Part II, Chapter 5; 168-72).
Role-Playing: Assistant Editor at Poetry Magazine
Imagine you have been hired by Harriet Monroe to exercise your literary judgment on submissions to Poetry magazine. The staff will follow these guidelines of the Imagist poets in making selections to be published:
• Present an image that is sharp and precise.
Be prepared to argue for/against these poems with the above criteria. You may also suggest revisions.
I have been watching the war map slammed up for advertising in front of the newspaper office.
A laughing young man, sunny with freckles,
(Ten thousand men and boys twist on their bodies in a red soak along a river edge,
AND THEY OBEY
Smash down the cities.
Build up the cities.
In the old wars drum of hoofs and the beat of shod feet.
In the old wars clutches of short swords and jabs into faces with spears.
In the old wars kings quarreling and thousands of men following.
Pile the bodies high at Austerlitz and Waterloo.
And pile them high at Gettysburg