After death, great poet still speaks out on guns


Editor’s Note: Listen to the full story in our player above, and join the conversation in our comments section below.

Chicago, Illinois (CNN) – Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Carl Sandburg produced much of his writing in the 1910s and 1920s, while a journalist in Milwaukee and Chicago. Among his contributions to American culture was his descriptive phrase of Chicago, “City of Big Shoulders.”

A newly discovered poem, which had languished in Sandburg’s voluminous archives at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, seems as if it could have been written today. It vividly portrays the author’s feelings toward guns in stark and powerful language.

Considering the current gun debate, university officials felt the poem was so relevant that they released it to the public.

[3:04] “Given the nature of that poem and how much it applies to current events, I really consider it a great find,”

said George Hendrick, professor emeritus of English at the University of Illinois, who spent decades acquiring the Sandburg collection.


Hendrick, who spent decades assembling the Sandburg archive and who edited a book of previously unpublished Sandburg poems, is sure that the new poem is authentic. University officials consulted with other experts as well who all agreed on its authenticity.

The poem is printed on the same kind of onionskin paper that Sandburg often used, and print smudges on the ink match his typewriter.

You can read the complete poem below and play our audio story above to hear how the discovery was made and learn of Sandburg’s relevance in America’s cultural history.


Here is a revolver.
It has an amazing language all its own.
It delivers unmistakable ultimatums.
It is the last word.
A simple, little human forefinger can tell a terrible story with it.
Hunger, fear, revenge, robbery hide behind it.
It is the claw of the jungle made quick and powerful.
It is the club of the savage turned to magnificent precision.
It is more rapid than any judge or court of law.
It is less subtle and treacherous than any one lawyer or ten.
When it has spoken, the case can not be appealed to the supreme court, nor any mandamus nor any injunction nor any stay of execution come in and interfere with the original purpose.
And nothing in human philosophy persists more strangely than the old belief that God is always on the side of those who have the most revolvers.

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By Nova Safo, CNN

After death, great poet still speaks out on guns


One thought on “After death, great poet still speaks out on guns

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