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

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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

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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.

 

 

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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."

 

 

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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

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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.