I Am The People, The Mob

A Poem by 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
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 forget.
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.

· · · · · ·


Carl Sandburg, Chicago Poems, Henry Holt and Company, New York, 1916; p. 172.


Carl Sandburg (1878-1967), was born dirt poor in Galesburg, Illinois. He grew up to embrace socialist causes as a journalist, a novelist and a poet. He was twice awarded the Pulitzer Prize: in 1940 for his biograhy, "Abraham Lincoln: The War Years" (Harcourt), and in 1951 for his poetry. He lived modestly, like any normal human being... Learn more about him.

Published under the provision of U.S. Code, Title 17, section 107.
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Published November 4, 2002
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