Verse > Carl Sandburg > Chicago Poems
Carl Sandburg (1878–1967).  Chicago Poems.  1916.
138. Government
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.”        5
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.


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