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A Revolver

This is a recently discovered poem, supposedly written by Pulitzer Prize recipient Carl Sandburg of unknown vintage. Below, I have transcribed the text of the poem from the photo which can be seen at http://news.illinois.edu/WebsandThumbs/Librarymisc/Sandburg/...
I will leave interpretations of the poem up to you, but look forward to hearing what the DP has to say, especially regarding the completely backwards logic of Valerie Hotchkiss, who is quoted below.


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 ex-
ecution 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.


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — In an apparently unpublished and previously unknown poem, Carl Sandburg addressed the topic of guns. Titled “A Revolver,” the short piece was discovered last week among Sandburg’s archives, housed in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The poem, typed on a manual typewriter on onionskin paper, was discovered by a library volunteer.

“It’s just amazing how something written way back then is relevant today,” he said.

With the recent mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., and the subsequent debate over gun control in mind, Gullerud decided to share the poem with Valerie Hotchkiss, the head of the Rare Book and Manuscript Library.

“I think it’s so interesting that Sandburg says poetically what we all know about guns: that they are the final word,” Hotchkiss said. “But he takes the idea one step forward to meditate on the effect of guns on freedom of speech – how the First Amendment is watered down by the Second Amendment. If somebody has a gun to your head, you can’t speak freely.”

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It assumes

That every shot kills and no one is ever defended

Tasers are Torture, Deism.com

Strange "coincidence"

if you believe in such things.
It's strange that this was found "NOW". If it had been found a few years ago or a few years hence then no big deal. But to find such a relevant poem at this time is just a bit too much.

I had the same reaction, kind

I had the same reaction, kind of strange that it has no date and was never seen before. I don't know how common it was for Sandburg to date his work, so that may not have been unusual. Maybe what this Gullerd did was to stumble onto something of relevance that he would normally have overlooked had it not been such a hot button issue at the time that he found it.

lindalsalisbury's picture

What A Great Find!!

Just love Sandburg!!

My response to the Hotchkiss comment is, "Where did she go to school?".

Thank you Linda. I would

Thank you Linda.
I would wager that it has less to do with where she went to school and more with how she felt she could subvert the meaning of the words. As I read it the poem seems to advocate responsible and thoughtful action in regards to firearms (assuming that the revolver actually is a revolver).