"Child of the Romans"
Below is the poem, with analysis at the bottom.


The dago shovelman sits by the railroad track
Eating a noon meal of bread and bologna.
     A train whirls by, and men and women at tables
     Alive with red roses and yellow jonquils,
     Eat steaks running with brown gravy,
     Strawberries and cream, eclaires and coffee.
The dago shovelman finishes the dry bread and bologna.
Washes it down with a dipper from the water-boy,
And goes back to the second half of a ten-hour day's
Keeping the road-bed so the roses and jonquils
Shake hardly at all in the cut glass vases
Standing slender on the tables in the dining cars.

A Student's Analysis

As with many of Sandburg's other poems, this poem centers around the differences between the upper and lower classes of Chicago.  The poem starts out with a worker taking a lunch break as he watches a train pass by.  Sandburg uses the train as the central image to contrast the two classes by.  We see the passengers inside the train eating gourmet foods and enjoying beautiful flower.  Sandburg then switches back to the worker who is eating "bread and bologna" (line 7) and then returns to work so that he can ensure that these wealthy people have beautiful flowers in their train.

Perhaps one of the underlying ideas in this poem is that the wealthy people enjoy all the great things in life but it's the working class that provides them.  We clearly see Sandburg's bias evident in this.

We return again to the idea that Chicago is full of hard-working people.  There are few luxuries for them but they get by, nonetheless.

This website is a student project created for the University of Michigan's English 280 class.  Created by Chris Stallman