from The People, Yes

By Carl Sandburg 1878–1967 Carl Sandburg
Lincoln?
He was a mystery in smoke and flags
Saying yes to the smoke, yes to the flags,
Yes to the paradoxes of democracy,
Yes to the hopes of government
Of the people by the people for the people,
No to debauchery of the public mind,
No to personal malice nursed and fed,
Yes to the Constitution when a help,
No to the Constitution when a hindrance
Yes to man as a struggler amid illusions,
Each man fated to answer for himself:
Which of the faiths and illusions of mankind
Must I choose for my own sustaining light
To bring me beyond the present wilderness?

       Lincoln? Was he a poet?
       And did he write verses?
“I have not willingly planted a thorn
       in any man’s bosom.”
I shall do nothing through malice: what
       I deal with is too vast for malice.”

Death was in the air.
So was birth.

Carl Sandburg, from "The People, Yes" from The People, Yes. Copyright © 1936 by Carl Sandburg.  Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Source: The People, Yes (Harcourt Inc., 1936)

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Poet Carl Sandburg 1878–1967

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

SCHOOL / PERIOD Modern

Subjects War & Conflict, Heroes & Patriotism, History & Politics, Social Commentaries

 Carl  Sandburg

Biography

"Trying to write briefly about Carl Sandburg," said a friend of the poet, "is like trying to picture the Grand Canyon in one black and white snapshot." His range of interests was enumerated by his close friend, Harry Golden, who, in his study of the poet, called Sandburg "the one American writer who distinguished himself in five fields—poetry, history, biography, fiction, and music."

Sandburg composed his poetry primarily in . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT War & Conflict, Heroes & Patriotism, History & Politics, Social Commentaries

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

SCHOOL / PERIOD Modern

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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