1916 | Chicago

Second Thoughts

Carl Sandburg at the nadir of a marriage.

I wish to God I never saw you, Mag. 
I wish you never quit your job and came along with me.
I wish we never bought a license and a white dress 
For you to get married in the day we ran off to a minister 
And told him we would love each other and take care of each other
Always and always long as the sun and the rain lasts anywhere.
Yes, I’m wishing now you lived somewhere away from here
And I was a bum on the bumpers a thousand miles away dead broke.
             I wish the kids had never come
             And rent and coal and clothes to pay for
             And a grocery man calling for cash,
             Every day cash for beans and prunes. 
             I wish to God I never saw you, Mag. 
             I wish to God the kids had never come. 


Carl Sandburg

“Mag.” Having worked as a barbershop porter, milk-truck driver, brickyard hand, and wheat harvester, Sandburg, at the age of twenty in 1898, enlisted in an Illinois infantry regiment to serve in the Spanish-American War. He published Chicago Poems in 1916, Good Morning, America in 1928, and his Pulitzer Prize–winning four-volume work of history, Abraham Lincoln: The War Years, in 1939. He died at the age of eighty-nine in 1967.