Carl Sandburg
Government (1916)


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 work-


ingmen 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 sensi-


tive as any human sinner carrying a load of germs,


traditions and corpuscles handed down from


fathers and mothers away back.