Two Poems of Dinkar and Carl Sandburg

Two poems separated by a time span of 34 years and different countries tell the same theme. Sandburg gives a call for the mass to view society and its history and how the common man is many times exploited by higher entities, and advises people to come together as whole and learn from the past. He talks about how if it were not for the people that nothing would ever get done. The people he is referring to are the middle, lower class and workers-by ‘mob’ he means the workers. During his time the workers of Chicago were castigated as a mob. Dinkar says that the time of workers has come and they are now prepared to take control of power. The oppressors and usurpers should vacate the throne.

Dr Ramdhari Singh ‘Dinkar’

(23.09.1908-24.4. 1974)

Born in a poor peasant family of the village – Simaria,(Bihar), Dinkar was one of the poet laureates of India. He was awarded the prestigious Gyanpeeth Prize in 1973 for his epic Urvashi. He was immensely influenced by Marxism and wrote several revolutionary poems which are considered masterpiece in Hindi. He was a prolific prose writer and developed the popular form of prose writing which is followed in Hindi these days. His book Sanskriti ke char adhyay (‘Four pillars of culture) is a brilliant presentation of history from an unbiased angle. The following poem is considered to be outstanding and its lines are often quoted during any movement. It is relevant even today.

Vacate the Throne, The People Are Coming

The centuries old extinguished ash is aflame again
the swaggering clay
wearing the crown of gold.
Give way,
listen to the thunderous roar of the chariot of time
vacate the throne, the people are coming.

Yes, those innocent statues of clay
always bearing the brunt of winter and frost
when snakes coiled around sucking their limbs
still never open mouth to tell their pain.

 Yes, the same sworn declaration of big-long tongues,
“People, really endure immeasurable pain."
"Oh yes, but after all what is the referendum?”
the question is enigmatical; what do the people say on it?"

As if people are merely flowers
who do not feel
whence needed pluck and deck in the baskets
or milk sucking babies
for whom the tactics to deceive
limited to a few toys.

But then erupts  a tremor
The storm surges
when the people in fury raise eyebrows
Give way,
listen to the thunderous roar of the chariot of time
vacate the throne, the people are coming.

The battle cries demolish the foundation of the palaces
The crown flies in the air with the force of the wheeze
There is no force in the time
to stop the people.
Where do they like
Time curls that side.

The darkness of the years, centuries and millenniums
gone; the skylights of the heaven are burning
It is none else than the victorious dreams of the people
Ripping the heart of the darkness.

Here comes the biggest republic of the world
prepare the throne for the 300 million people*
the coronation is not of  a king today
It is of the people
put crown on the heads of the 300 million people

Oh fool!
Whom are you looking for taking aarti in hand
In the temples, palaces, vaults?
The gods are cutting soil on the roads
The gods would be found on the farms, on the barns.
Spade and plough are going to become the sceptre
The mousiness spruces her with gold
Give way,
listen to the thunderous roar of the chariot of time
vacate the throne, the people are coming.

This poem was written on January 26, 1950 when the population of India was 300 million.

Translated by Pankaj Prasoon


I Am the People, The Mob

By Carl Sandburg

This poem is from the Chicago Poems published in 1916.

I am the people – the mob – the crowd – the mass.
Do you know that all the great work of the world is
     done through me?
I am the workingman, the inventor, the maker of the
     world's food and clothes.
I am the audience that witnesses history. The Napoleons
     come from me and the Lincolns. They die. And
     then I send forth more Napoleons and Lincolns.
I am the seed ground. I am a prairie that will stand
     for much plowing. Terrible storms pass over me.
     I forget. The best of me is sucked out and wasted.
     I forget. Everything but Death comes to me and
     makes me work and give up what I have. And I
Sometimes I growl, shake myself and spatter a few red
     drops for history to remember. Then--I forget.
When I, the People, learn to remember, when I, the
     People, use the lessons of yesterday and no longer
     forget who robbed me last year, who played me for
     a fool – then there will be no speaker in all the world
     say the name: ‘The People,’ with any fleck of a
     sneer in his voice or any far-off smile of derision.
The mob – the crowd – the mass – will arrive then.

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