I am the People, the Mob

Original Text: 
Carl Sandburg, Chicago Poems (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1916), p. 172. PS 3537 A618C5 1916 Robarts Library.
1I AM the people -- the mob--the crowd--the mass.
2Do you know that all the great work of the world is done through me?
3I am the workingman, the inventor, the maker of the
4     world's food and clothes.
6     come from me and the Lincolns.
7I am the seed ground. I am a prairie that will stand
8     for much plowing. Terrible storms pass over me.
9     I forget. The best of me is sucked out and wasted.
10     I forget. Everything but death comes to me and
11     makes me work and give up what I have. And I
12     forget.
13Sometimes I grows, shake myself and spatter a few red
14     drops for history to remember. Then--I forget.
16     People, use the lessons of yesterday and no longer
17     forget who robbed me last year, who played me for
18     a fool--then there will be no speaker in all the world
19     say the name: "The People," with any fleck of a
20     sneer in his voice or any far off smile of derision.
21The mob--the crowd--the mass--will arrive then.

Notes

5] Napoleons: Napoleon (Bonaparte) I, emperor of the French (1769-1821), his son Napoleon II (1811-32), and (Louis) Napoleon III(1808-73).
Lincolns: Benjamin Lincoln (1733-1810), American general in the revolutionary army; Abraham Lincoln (1809-65), 16th President of the United States. Back to Line
15] fleck: bit Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
1916
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 1998.
Form: