Thursday, July 22, 2010



The western land,
nervous under the beginning change.
The Western States,
nervous as horses before a thunder storm.
The great owners,
nervous, sensing a change, knowing nothing of the nature of the change.
The great owners,
striking at the immediate thing, the widening government, the growing labor unity;
striking at new taxes, at plans;
not knowing these things are results, not causes.
Results, not causes;
results, not causes.

The causes lie deep and simply--
the causes are
a hunger in a stomach,
multiplied a million times;
a hunger in a single soul, hunger for joy and some security,
multiplied a million times;
muscles and mind aching to grow, to work, to create,
multiplied a million times.

The last clear definite function of man--
muscles aching to work,
minds aching to create beyond the single need--
this is man.

To build a wall,
to build a house,
a dam,
and in the wall and house and dam
to put something of Manself,
and to Manself take back something
of the wall,
the house,
the dam;
to take hard muscles from the lifting,
to take the clear lines and form from conceiving.
For man, unlike any other thing organic or inorganic in the universe,
grows beyond his work,
walks up the stairs of his concepts,
emerges ahead of his accomplishments.

This you may say of man--
when theories
change and crash,
when schools, philosophies,
when narrow dark alleys of thought,
grow and disintegrate,
man reaches, stumbles forward,
mistakenly sometimes.
Having stepped forward,
he may slip back,
but only half a step,
never the full step back.

This you may say
and know it
and know it.
This you may know
when the bombs plummet out of the black planes on the market place,
when prisoners are stuck like pigs,
when the crushed bodies drain filthily in the dust.

You may know it in this way.
If the step were not being taken,
if the stumbling-forward ache were not alive,
the bombs would not fall,
the throats would not be cut.

Fear the time when the bombs stop falling
while the bombers live--
for every bomb is proof
that the spirit has not died.
And fear the time when the strikes stop
while the great owners live--
for every little beaten strike is proof
that the step is being taken.

And this you can know--
fear the time when Manself will not suffer and die for a concept,
for this one quality is the foundation of Manself,
and this one quality is man,
distinctive in the universe.

-John Steinbeck

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