Carl Sandburg

Here you will find the Poem Onion Days of poet Carl Sandburg

Onion Days

Mrs. Gabrielle Giovannitti comes along Peoria Street 
every morning at nine o'clock 
With kindling wood piled on top of her head, her eyes 
looking straight ahead to find the way for her old feet. 
Her daughter-in-law, Mrs. Pietro Giovannitti, whose 
husband was killed in a tunnel explosion through 
the negligence of a fellow-servant, 
Works ten hours a day, sometimes twelve, picking onions 
for Jasper on the Bowmanville road. 
She takes a street car at half-past five in the morning, 
Mrs. Pietro Giovannitti does, 
And gets back from Jasper's with cash for her day's 
work, between nine and ten o'clock at night. 
Last week she got eight cents a box, Mrs. Pietro 
Giovannitti, picking onions for Jasper, 
But this week Jasper dropped the pay to six cents a 
box because so many women and girls were answering 
the ads in the Daily News. 
Jasper belongs to an Episcopal church in Ravenswood 
and on certain Sundays 
He enjoys chanting the Nicene creed with his daughters 
on each side of him joining their voices with his. 
If the preacher repeats old sermons of a Sunday, Jasper's 
mind wanders to his 700-acre farm and how he 
can make it produce more efficiently 
And sometimes he speculates on whether he could word 
an ad in the Daily News so it would bring more 
women and girls out to his farm and reduce operating 
Mrs. Pietro Giovannitti is far from desperate about life; 
her joy is in a child she knows will arrive to her in 
three months. 
And now while these are the pictures for today there are 
other pictures of the Giovannitti people I could give 
you for to-morrow, 
And how some of them go to the county agent on winter 
mornings with their baskets for beans and cornmeal 
and molasses. 
I listen to fellows saying here's good stuff for a novel or 
it might be worked up into a good play. 
I say there's no dramatist living can put old Mrs. 
Gabrielle Giovannitti into a play with that kindling 
wood piled on top of her head coming along Peoria 
Street nine o'clock in the morning.