Sandburg, Carl, 1878-1967.:  I AM THE PEOPLE, THE MOB [from Chicago Poems (1916)

Henry Holt and Company]

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 witness history. The Napo-
      leons come from me and the Lincolns. They die.
      And then I send forth more Napoleons and Lin-

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.

Sandburg, Carl, 1878-1967.:  COOL TOMBS [from Cornhuskers (1918), Henry Holt and Company]

When Abraham Lincoln was shoveled into the tombs,
     he forgot the copperheads and the assassin ...
     in the dust, in the cool tombs.

And Ulysses Grant lost all thought of con men and Wall
     Street, cash and collateral turned ashes ... in the
     dust, in the cool tombs.

Pocahontas' body, lovely as a poplar, sweet as a red haw
      in November or a pawpaw in May, did she wonder?
      does she remember? ... in the dust, in the cool

Take any streetful of people buying clothes and groceries,
      cheering a hero or throwing confetti and blowing
      tin horns ... tell me if the lovers are losers ...
      tell me if any get more than the lovers ... in the
      dust ... in the cool tombs.




from The People, Yes

The people yes
The people will live on.
The learning and blundering people will live on.
    They will be tricked and sold and again sold
And go back to the nourishing earth for rootholds,
    The people so peculiar in renewal and comeback,
    You can't laugh off their capacity to take it.
The mammoth rests between his cyclonic dramas.

The people so often sleepy, weary, enigmatic,
is a vast huddle with many units saying:
    "I earn my living.
    I make enough to get by
    and it takes all my time.
    If I had more time
    I could do more for myself
    and maybe for others.
    I could read and study
    and talk things over
    and find out about things.
    It takes time.
    I wish I had the time."

The people is a tragic and comic two-face: hero and hoodlum:
phantom and gorilla twisting to moan with a gargoyle mouth:
"They buy me and sell's a game...sometime I'll
break loose..."

    Once having marched
Over the margins of animal necessity,
Over the grim line of sheer subsistence
    Then man came
To the deeper rituals of his bones,
To the lights lighter than any bones,
To the time for thinking things over,
To the dance, the song, the story,
Or the hours given over to dreaming,
    Once having so marched.

Between the finite limitations of the five senses
and the endless yearnings of man for the beyond
the people hold to the humdrum bidding of work and food
while reaching out when it comes their way
for lights beyond the prison of the five senses,
for keepsakes lasting beyond any hunger or death.
    This reaching is alive.
The panderers and liars have violated and smutted it.
    Yet this reaching is alive yet
    for lights and keepsakes.

    The people know the salt of the sea
    and the strength of the winds
    lashing the corners of the earth.
    The people take the earth
    as a tomb of rest and a cradle of hope.
    Who else speaks for the Family of Man?
    They are in tune and step
    with constellations of universal law.
    The people is a polychrome,
    a spectrum and a prism
    held in a moving monolith,
    a console organ of changing themes,
    a clavilux of color poems
    wherein the sea offers fog
    and the fog moves off in rain
    and the labrador sunset shortens
    to a nocturne of clear stars
    serene over the shot spray
    of northern lights.

    The steel mill sky is alive.
    The fire breaks white and zigzag
    shot on a gun-metal gloaming.
    Man is a long time coming.
    Man will yet win.
    Brother may yet line up with brother:

This old anvil laughs at many broken hammers.
    There are men who can't be bought.
    The fireborn are at home in fire.
    The stars make no noise,
    You can't hinder the wind from blowing.
    Time is a great teacher.
    Who can live without hope?

In the darkness with a great bundle of grief
    the people march.
In the night, and overhead a shovel of stars for keeps, the people
    "Where to? what next?"