Carl Sandburg

(6 January 1878 – 22 July 1967 / Illinois)

Government - Poem by Carl Sandburg

The Government -- I heard about the Government and
I went out to find it. I said I would look closely at
it when I saw it.
Then I saw a policeman dragging a drunken man to
the callaboose. It was the Government in action.
I saw a ward alderman slip into an office one morning
and talk with a judge. Later in the day the judge
dismissed a case against a pickpocket who was a
live ward worker for the alderman. Again I saw
this was the Government, doing things.
I saw militiamen level their rifles at a crowd of
workingmen who were trying to get other workingmen
to stay away from a shop where there was a strike
on. Government in action.
Everywhere I saw that Government is a thing made of
men, that Government has blood and bones, it is
many mouths whispering into many ears, sending
telegrams, aiming rifles, writing orders, saying
"yes" and "no."
Government dies as the men who form it die and are laid
away in their graves and the new Government that
comes after is human, made of heartbeats of blood,
ambitions, lusts, and money running through it all,
money paid and money taken, and money covered
up and spoken of with hushed voices.
A Government is just as secret and mysterious and sensitive
as any human sinner carrying a load of germs,
traditions and corpuscles handed down from
fathers and mothers away back.


Comments about Government by Carl Sandburg

  • (1/8/2016 1:11:00 AM)


    Very poignant even today and people still run out and vote thinking there is a dime's worth of difference between the candidates when the truth is the whole system is now a complete failure. (Report) Reply

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  • (9/25/2015 2:33:00 PM)


    If all men, women, boys, and girls knew the meaning of Government as did Mr. Sandburg, what a wonderful world this would be. We would hear less of 'the government this and the government that'. The word 'They' would evolve into a personal pronoun like Paul or Mary or John or even Peggy. My Government would be known by me, not at the court house, police station, or the social security office, but he/she would be my neighbor next door trying to cut his lawn just like me. (Report) Reply

  • Brian Jani (6/19/2014 1:50:00 PM)


    Mr sandburg, i wonder why this poem has no comment yet because it is a masterpieces (Report) Reply

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Poem Submitted: Friday, January 3, 2003



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