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I Am the People—the Mob
Carl Sandburg

I am the people—the mob—the crowd—the mass.
Do you know that all the great work of the world is
     done through me?
I am the workingman, the inventor, the maker of the
     world's food and clothes.
I am the audience that witnesses history. The Napoleons
     come from me and the Lincolns. They die. And
     then I send forth more Napoleons and Lincolns.
I am the seed ground. I am a prairie that will stand
     for much plowing. Terrible storms pass over me.
     I forget. The best of me is sucked out and wasted.
     I forget. Everything but Death comes to me and
     makes me work and give up what I have. And I
Sometimes I growl, shake myself and spatter a few red
     drops for history to remember. Then—I forget.
When I, the People, learn to remember, when I, the
     People, use the lessons of yesterday and no longer
     forget who robbed me last year, who played me for
     a fool—then there will be no speaker in all the world
     say the name: "The People," with any fleck of a
     sneer in his voice or any far-off smile of derision.
The mob—the crowd—the mass—will arrive then.


This poem is in the public domain.

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Carl Sandburg (1878 - 1967) was an American poet, children’s author, and biographer. The son of Swedish parents who immigrated to Illinois, Carl was forced to drop out of school after the eighth grade to help support the family. He worked at a number of different jobs, then did a stint as a hobo before volunteering to serve in the Spanish-American war. A plain-speaking poet with a style similar to that of Walt Whitman, Carl often chose American life as his subject matter--especially industry, agriculture, and the common man. Like Whitman, he attended several colleges, but never received a degree, except for honorary ones bestowed years later on the merit of his work.


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Brilliant. I read it before.
Posted 01/20/2012 06:00 PM
Fantastic. What a great poem. Everyone needs to read this poem. NOW. Thanks for posting it today, Jayne. And thank you, Carl, wherever you are, for writing it.
Posted 01/20/2012 09:36 AM
I enjoyed this poem from a great poet.
Posted 01/20/2012 08:57 AM
Ralph Murre:
Thanks for posting this, Jayne.
Posted 01/20/2012 08:57 AM
Ralph Murre:
Thanks for posting this, Jayne.
Posted 01/20/2012 08:57 AM
Carol Hauer:
What a great and timely way to be reminded of this concept.
Posted 01/20/2012 08:46 AM
This poem certainly does have a modern feel to it! We never change, it would seem.
Posted 01/20/2012 08:27 AM
A magnificent piece of work. Especially relevent at this time. Poets' say it like it is. H.
Posted 01/20/2012 08:26 AM
Wonderful poem!! And something for us to remember in today's political climate! Thank you, Jayne, for this powerful piece of poetry!
Posted 01/20/2012 08:16 AM

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