Someone sent me Carl Sandburg’s poem “I Am The People, The Mob” yesterday. Coming at the end of a long day, a long week, a long month, a long year, a long 1,664 days (y’all are smart, figure it out) for me, it was so very much welcome.
With all of the recent protests, marches, upheaval, unprecedented bad behavior, it’s been exhausting and draining and sometimes dispiriting. Carl Sandburg’s gritty yet uplifting and soaring poetry is enough to lift the weight that had begun to settle in.
As it was a gift to me, I now share it with you.
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 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.
Being part of the crowd, the mob, the masses, is a critical and important thing. Let’s stick with it and see what happens, shall we?