Modernism in Sandburg's 'Chicago' and 'Prayers of Steel'
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Modernism in Sandburg's "Chicago" and "Prayers of Steel"
Modernism can be seen as a reaction to the new society and environment that was formed by industrialization, which arose during the period between World War I and World War II. The modernist movement arose out of this new way of viewing the world and the self. Among the characteristics of the modernist movement were alienation and themes that were rooted in real life and real-life experiences. American poet Carl Sandburg was able to demonstrate how the individual viewed his redefined relationship with his environment and society in "Prayers of Steel" and "Chicago." In these poems, Sandburg strives to explore how the narrator attempts to reconcile his identity of self through the use of industrialist settings and images. In "Chicago," published in 1916, has accepted the world around him and acknowledges that although he is not a part of what he has witnessed, he is complacent with the alienating properties Chicago is able to provide and finds comfort in being lost within the large city. The narrator begins by describing Chicago as "Hog Butcher for the World,/Tool maker, Stacker of Wheat,/ Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler;/Stormy, husky, brawling,/City of the Big Shoulders" to explain how industrialization has come to define the city ("Chicago" 1-5). The narrator then proceeds to describe his observations of individuals who live on the fringe of society, "painted women under the gas lamps luring