Carl Sandburg

Carl Sandburg (George Tames, Getty Images / February 1, 2013)

You have, no doubt, heard about the new Carl Sandburg poem.

Perhaps you have read it too. It is titled "A Revolver," and it was discovered a few weeks ago by Ernie Gullerud, a former professor of social work at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, during his duties as a volunteer at the university.

As Tribune reporter Bridget Doyle reported on Jan. 21, Gullerud came upon this previously unpublished work in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library, where he has toiled every Thursday for more than seven years. "For the past two years, he's been working to classify and enter a file folder of poems into the school's electronic system," wrote Doyle. "He was working through poems by Sandburg … when he came across 'A Revolver' typed on scratch paper and recognized its relevance to current cultural debates across the country."

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The 83-year-old told Doyle: "I'm no judge of what makes a great poem, but this one said so much and so succinctly and to the point. I thought 'Golly, someone could have written this today.'"

Here is the poem. You be the judge:

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 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.