Do you have a favorite poem that moves you to action like the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream”? I want to share with you one of my favorite poems – this one I first heard read by a classmate in speech class in high school. It still inspires me. One of the many things I liked about Carl Sandburg was he wrote poems to his country.
I am the People the Mob, by Carl Sandburg
I am the people—
Do you know that all the great work of the world
is done through me?
I am the workingman,
the maker of the world’s food and clothes.
I am the audience that witnesses history.
The Napoleons come from me and the Lincolns.
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.
The best of me is sucked out and wasted.
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.
To read more about the life of Carl Sandburg visit The Poetry Foundation.