Chicago Poems

Author: Carl Sandburg  | Date: 1916


A MAN was crucified. He came to the city a stranger, was accused, and nailed to a cross. He lingered hanging. Laughed at the crowd. "The nails are iron," he said, "You are cheap. In my country when we crucify we use silver nails. . ." So he went jeering. They did not understand him at first. Later they talked about him in changed voices in the saloons, bowling alleys, and churches. It came over them every man is crucified only once in his life and the law of humanity dictates silver nails be used for the job. A statue was erected to him in a public square. Not having gathered his name when he was among them, they wrote him as John Silvernail on the statue.


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Chicago: Carl Sandburg, "Silver Nails," Chicago Poems Original Sources, accessed September 25, 2022,

MLA: Sandburg, Carl. "Silver Nails." Chicago Poems, Original Sources. 25 Sep. 2022.

Harvard: Sandburg, C, 'Silver Nails' in Chicago Poems. Original Sources, retrieved 25 September 2022, from