November 1, 2007

Graceland (1916)
by Carl Sandburg

Uptown-area resident Carl Sandburg lived at 4646 N. Hermitage, and it was in this house that he penned the famous Chicago Poems, from where this selection is taken. Sandburg was a bit critical of the money wasted on the lavish tombs of Graceland and of their upkeep.

TOMB of a millionaire,
A multi-millionaire, ladies and gentlemen,
Place of the dead where they spend every year
The usury of twenty-five thousand dollars
For upkeep and flowers
To keep fresh the memory of the dead.
The merchant prince gone to dust
Commanded in his written will
Over the signed name of his last testament
Twenty-five thousand dollars be set aside
For roses, lilacs, hydrangeas, tulips,
For perfume and color, sweetness of remembrance
Around his last long home.

(A hundred cash girls want nickels to go to the movies to-night.
In the back stalls of a hundred saloons, women are at tables
Drinking with men or waiting for men jingling loose
silver dollars in their pockets.
In a hundred furnished rooms is a girl who sells silk or
dress goods or leather stuff for six dollars a week wages
And when she pulls on her stockings in the morning she
is reckless about God and the newspapers and the
police, the talk of her home town or the name
people call her.)

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