Poetry Sunday: I am the People, the Mob by Carl Sandburg

Carl Sandburg was a poet of the people, writ large. He wrote of and for ordinary people, "the workingman, the inventor, the maker of the world’s food and clothes."

In this poem, he seems to decry the fact that the people, the mob, the mass do not know their own strength and that they never seem to learn from history but continue to be played for fools by those in power. He longs for a time when the people no longer "forget" but remember that they have the strength and the numbers to change history. It is a lesson that we can only hope people today have learned and take to heart.

I Am the People, the Mob

by Carl Sandburg

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.


  1. Ah, true. If only the people-the mob-the crowd-the mass would read more books, they might remember.

  2. The more things change, etc. Still so relevant. I am going to link to this blog post for my 4th of July offering.

  3. Nice sentiments but doesn't do it for me as a poem... wonder why???


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