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Carl Sandburg. 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.

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Presentation on theme: "Carl Sandburg. 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."— Presentation transcript:

1 Carl Sandburg

2 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.

3 Overview “I Am the People, the Mob” is known as one of Sandburg’s most blatantly socialist poems. It is often condemned by critics as socialist propaganda, with the intent of glorifying the power of the people. However, Sandburg’s poetry is not shallow and thoughtless like true propaganda; instead, he is making a moving appeal to the people to recognize their true potential and power.

4 Perspective In “I Am the People, the Mob”, Sandburg combines the point of view of someone merely observing the mob with the point of view of someone speaking as the mob itself. While Sandburg speaks in first person as the mob, he does make observations about the mob that only one detached from mob could observe: 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.

5 Perspective While he is observing these tendencies, Sandburg is at the same time caught up in his role as the mob itself: 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. This combination of perspective allows Sandburg to stand in the position of a “socialist intellectual who discerns and proclaims the spirit of the People” (Wienan) Sandburg sympathizes with the mob while at the same time showing himself to be a part of it.

6 Symbolism Sandburg creates a brief metaphor to highlight what the people have withstood over the years: I am the seed ground. I am a prairie that will stand for much plowing. Terrible storms pass over me. Of course, the seed ground and the prairie represent the people. The fact that the prairie will stand for much plowing is Sandburg’s way of saying that the people have been exploited over the years. The rich and affluent of the world exploit the people, using them to make themselves richer and more affluent, and to fight their wars (storms).

7 Symbolism Carrying on with the exploitation of the people, Sandburg states: The Napoleons come from me and the Lincolns. They die. And then I send forth more Napoleons and Lincolns. Great leaders, such as Napoleon and Lincoln, often come from the masses. However, when these people rise above their peers, they often end up just exploiting the people. Napoleon and Lincoln both used the people to fight wars. Sandburg is trying to point out that the people must take action themselves, rather than trust individuals to do the right thing.

8 Message After highlighting the importance of the people and how they have been exploited throughout history, Sandburg exhorts the mob to assert themselves. 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 of the world say the name: “The People,” with any fleck of a sneer in his voice or any far-off smile of derision. Sandburg wants the masses to recognize the injustices they have suffered at the hands of those in power, and then use their own might to right these wrongs, and fight for their own rights.


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