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.

Analysis, meaning and summary of the poem by

7 Comments

  1. Jian Mapalo says:

    In the poem of Carl Sandburg, he gave the reader a vivid picture of the life of the common people- the working class that in spite of their efforts for change the ruling minority is still in charge…but towards the end of his poem he made a fair warning…wait and see! when the “mob” realizes their power the ruling minority must step aside.

  2. sreepriya k.s says:

    To me this is one of visualy imaged poem speakes about the life of people.the discrimination in them,their sacrifices towards the society and the metaphor combines to the “HUMAN FACE”.Here this poem conveys us about the great work done through the people.the poet also tries to include great personalities who are role model for us

  3. Franco S says:

    Sandburg is the “I”, you are the “I”, I am the “I”. Everyone is the “I”. If you are a human being, you are the speaker.

  4. trey says:

    To me this poem is a call for the mass to view society and its history and how the common man is many times exploited by higher entities, but the ills of society continue each generation for people do not come together as whole and learn from the past; thus creating this perpetual cycle that man lives in

  5. sydney Elizabeth says:

    I believe that Carl Sandburg has a way of getting on a lower level and feeling the people and their beliefs. He saw real people and showed them for who they were.

  6. J.B. Lee says:

    I rather think he is referring more to events like mob uprisings, such as the Haymarket Riots, or, considering the time frame, the Russian revolution, where people took politics into their own hands, fought for change, either won or lost, and then descended back into the faceless, sheeplike mob.

  7. Courtney says:

    From what I understand, I believe that it is portrayed that the earth is the narrator and “spatter a few red drops for history to remember” could be a volcano.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Do you have any comments, criticism, paraphrasis or analysis of this poem that you feel would assist other visitors in understanding the meaning or the theme of this poem better? If they are accepted, they will be added to this page of American Poems. Together we can build a wealth of information, but it will take some discipline and determination.