Paul Greenberg

A close reading of even political documents can yield a bountiful harvest of found poems, especially if they're speeches and meant to be spoken. See Lincoln's stirring Gettysburg Address:

Fourscore and seven years ago

our fathers brought forth on this continent,

a new nation,

conceived in Liberty,

and dedicated to the proposition

that all men are created equal.

Or the same president's sublime Second Inaugural:

With malice toward none;

with charity for all;

with firmness in the right,

as God gives us to see the right.

It is harder to find poetry in political analysis, but it is there in the best, by which I mean Tocqueville. Here is his description - in Volume One, Chapter 8, of "Democracy in America" - of the birth of the U.S. Constitution:

That which is new in the history of societies

is to see a great people,

warned by its lawgivers

that the wheels of government are stopping,

turn its attention on itself

without hate or fear,

sound the depth of the ill,

and then wait two years

to find the remedy at leisure,

and then finally,

when the remedy has been indicated,

submit to it voluntarily,

without its costing humanity

a single tear or drop of blood.

That's what political science raised to poetry sounds like.


Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.