Carl Sandburg’s home – 4646 N. Hermitage, Ravenswood
Other than neighborhood walks and short drives we haven’t left the house for weeks. What better time to visit some Chicago literary landmarks? Yesterday we took a drive to Carl Sandburg’s charming home in Ravenswood.
Originally from Galesburg, Illinois, Sandburg moved to the second story apartment in this house at 4646 N. Hermitage in 1912. During the time he lived here he was a reporter for the Chicago Daily News and wrote his most famous poem, Chicago. Sandburg would move to Maywood in 1914. He won three Pulitzer prizes – two for poetry and one for his biography of Abraham Lincoln. If it’s been awhile since you read it, here’s where the city got the nickname “City of Big Shoulders” –
Hog Butcher for the World,
Tool maker, Stacker of Wheat,
Player with Railroads and the Nation’s
Stormy, husky, brawling,
City of the Big Shoulders:
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.
And they tell me you are crooked and I answer: yes, it is true I have seen the gunman kill and go free to kill again.
And they tell me you are brutal and my reply is: On the faces of women and children I have seen the marks of wanton hunger.
And having answered so I turn once more to those who sneer at this my city, and I give them back the sneer and say to them:
Come and show me another city with lifted head singing so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning.
Flinging magnetic curses amid the toil of piling job on job, here is a tall bold slugger set vivid against the little soft cities;
Fierce as a dog with tongue lapping for action, cunning as a savage pitted against the wilderness,
Building, breaking, rebuilding,
Under the smoke, dust all over his mouth, laughing with white teeth,
Under the terrible burden of destiny laughing as a young man laughs,
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.
(Poem in the public domain)
As a bonus, there’s a Little Free Library right outside the house 🙂