You picked your guitar and sang like a farmer getting at something about jobs, but not quite, something about the walls and cages made by and for the People’s labor, rooms that left us broke and suffocated, but not as busted and choked (so they say) as we were before we built them and enclosed ourselves to borrow and consume.
“Neither a lender nor a borrower be” is a savage notion, but you didn’t write about Franklin, did you? You probably did. You wrote about everything and everyone. When you died you allegedly left a 400-page bibliography of your work. According to the Poetry Foundation, you were very productive.
Now we at least have, or recently had anyway, some dust in our throats for victuals to live on ‘til we croak on our feet numb with scrambled memories of booze-addled Saturday nights and sleepy Sabbath afternoons. And the town’s obits seldom run half the page.
Sixty minutes covers everything they want us to know. What they’re saying of your America they’re saying in a binary code that refuses to flip-flop, with the volken or masses or mob you so loved listening for their system’s inner child, as you once did, moved by its pulse not its diction, looking for the power.
They will not occupy their wilder-ness. That terrifies them. The wild is a scalping terr’rist Injun. Look Out!
These days our sense of time has removed us from the glimmering dawn of illuminated life amusing itself in meadows under vast heavens of falling, thoughtless rain. These days we’re marking voices that leave our tongues wagging and ears wriggling with nonsense and lies.
America before Columbus (did you write of him, too?) was a pond alive with minnows and perch, snappers and loons, reflecting a firmament astir with hawks and herons, surrounded by forest eyelashes occupied by Iroquois, a solid forehead roamed by Oglala Sioux and a chin carved of solid Cherokee.
Your problem became America’s problem, preferring Emerson to Muir or Thoreau, parlor over pond and peak.
Happy Birthday, Mr. Sandburg. They’ve found some rhyme in their reason thanks to your Lincoln, but we lost our freedom in the expediencies of gitter done and legalese. You were the humble, twanging Wagner of the Great Plains and kinda saw it coming cause you knew the city and such—