Archive for June 15th, 2020


“Approaching Storm”- Now at the Principle Gallery

Lately, I have been reading bits and pieces from a book of Carl Sandburg poems called The People, Yes. Published in 1936, it is an deep reflection on the American people at that time, in the midst of the upheaval of  the Great Depression. It is a broad work that attempts to span the multitudes, much like Whitman and his Leaves of Grass.

As I say, I have been reading it piecemeal, picking it up at loose moments. Each time I am struck how relative it is to this time even though it is nearly 85 years old. For all the technological and societal changes that have occurred, for all the progress and sophistication we assume took place, we are still pretty much the same and pretty much in the same place. Still maintaining many of the same conceptions and misconceptions, still as biased and still as vulnerable to being manipulated.

One verse from this book that I keep coming back to is shown above, at least its beginning, #102.

It begins with bits from President Lincoln’s July 4, 1961 speech to Congress, one in which he justified his actions in the aftermath of the Confederate’s attack on Fort Sumter. In it, he outlined how the leaders of the Southern rebellion stoked the enthusiasm for conflict among the people living there through the dispersal of misinformation and fallacies. Some things never change, eh?

Reading Sandburg’s take on this is a bit scary. It seems to reflect what has happened here so well. The public has been barraged with lies and hateful, divisive rhetoric for the last three or so years to the point that we are without moorings. And now, in this unsteady state, we are experiencing the convergence of events that have been precipitated by these actions.

We are reaping the whirlwind.

And, unfortunately, the man and his accomplices who have done this, who have unleashed this awful power, can no longer control its direction or the scope and range of its destructive power.

As Sandburg put it:

 Is there a time to repeat,
“The living passions of millions can rise
into a whirlwind: the storm once loose
who can ride it? You? Or you? Or you?
        only history, only tomorrow, knows
        for every revolution breaks
as a child of its own convulsive hour
shooting patterns never told of beforehand”?

As I say, some things never change. There will always be those who try to benefit from inciting chaos and division upon the people. But, as it has always been, these devious people have never been able to reliably predict or control the whirlwind they let loose.

The public mind generally has the final word in such matters.

And it is speaking now.


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