(This is from the 57th section of Carl Sandburg's "The People, Yes.")
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.
What was dying few could say.
What was being born none could know.
He took the wheel in a lashing roaring
And by what compass did he steer the course
of the ship?
"My policy is to have no policy," he said in
the early months,
And three years later, "I have been controlled by events."
See you at the polls!
back to main page