THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO
17 SEPTEMBER 2012
ThingsThat Make You Go
Carl Sandburg died six months after I was born.He won three Pulitzer prizes; one for his biography of AbrahamLincoln and another two for the poetry that made him famous, andhis face was claimed to be one-third of the inspiration for that of
E.T. by none other than the lm's director himself, Steven Spielberg
(the other two unlikely members of that triumvirate were ErnestHemingway and Albert Einstein).In 1936, Sandburg wrote an ode to America that he called
which spread over an astounding three hundred pagesand ultimately became the inspiration for an entire generation dueto just one line amongst the thousands that comprised the work.
"The rst world war came and its cost was laid on the people.
Te second world war — the third — what will be the cost. And will it repay the people or what they pay?... Te little girl saw her rst troop parade and asked,'What are those?''Soldiers.''What are soldiers?''Tey are or war. Tey ght and each tries to kill as many o the other side as he can.' Te girl held still and studied.'Do you know ... I know something?''Yes, what is it you know?''Sometime they’ll give a war and nobody will come.'"
That last line was seized upon in the 1960s by what my grandfather would no doubt have called"hippy slackers" as they searched for both an identity and something around which to rally toexpress their opposition to America's involvement in Vietnam.