Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Carl Sandburg: Chicago Poems—#2

Carl Sandburg: Chicago Poems—#2

Maybe sometime after 1906 Carl Sandburg met Jurgis Rudkus when they were both hobo-ing it across the Midwest. In the poem, ‘Boes, Sandburg states: We were three in all, the other being a Lithuanian who got drunk on pay day at the steel works and got to fighting a policeman.

I’d like to think that Socialism was just another of the many disappointments in Jurgis’ life. After quitting his bellboy job—mainly due to the boring and endless speeches— he returned to the slaughterhouse to look for secluded, sonically superior work where he could never hear anybody make speeches. But, he was never picked from the line: being too old and weak. So, he went back to the steel mill and harvester works and found employment. Jurgis pacified his pain with drink and convenient companionship. The policeman he punched was trying to arrest Jurgis’ recycled sweetheart as she was on her way to meet Jurgis at the same whorehouse where Marija lived and worked.

I could be wrong. Maybe it was a different Lithuanian hobo who liked to drink and fight policemen after working at the steel mill. Its great reading Sandburg again after Devil in the White city and The Jungle!

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