July 2, 2014

The People Yes by Carl Sandburg


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 me...it'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?"

Sandburg sized himself up in the preface to Complete Poems:
All my life I have been trying to learn to read, to see and hear, and to write. At sixty-five I began my first novel, and the five years lacking a month I took to finish it, I was still traveling, still a seeker. . . . It could be, in the grace of God, I shall live to be eighty-nine, as did [the Japanese poet] Hokusai, and speaking my farewell to earthly scenes, I might paraphrase: "If God had let me live five years longer I should have been a writer."

Connemara, Sandburg's rural estate in Flat Rock, North Carolina. [Photo: Vanderleun]

Posted by gerardvanderleun at July 2, 2014 8:09 PM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

Always did like that thing. Yep.

Posted by: pbird at July 3, 2014 10:20 AM

"There are men who can't be bought." This we will find out soon I believe. True or false and to what degree I do not know. The buttons are being pushed by the people who are in he control room and safe from the mass below. There will be one button that finally creates a synergistic reaction in the sleeping many.

Posted by: Terry at July 3, 2014 10:26 AM

Oh there are men who can't be bought. Depend upon it.

Posted by: vanderleun at July 3, 2014 10:29 AM

Sandburg was a Socialist, but of the honorable, pre-Frankfurt School variety that produced men like Eugene Debs and the Wobblies, and that addressed genuine injustices rather than neurotic identity-politics obsessions.

Posted by: Skorpion at July 3, 2014 8:37 PM

For those who are depressed, discontented, or despair of the current State of Loathsome Affairs, remember, "... The fireborn are at home in fire."
Those at Valley Forge had good reason to be depressed, but they were fireborn in battle and of remorseless steel, cold-quenched to durable hardness in the ice and snow on the march to Trenton. Elder brothers, they are, to those who knew no surrender at Bastogne and so many other places.
They did not fight for glory, they did not fight for gold, they fought for what's right for all.

So, as the inventor of the sphere and would say,"If you have a pair, don't despair."
This applies as well to women with their body conic sections modestly displayed.

Posted by: Howard Nelson at July 4, 2014 12:35 PM