Kenneth Burke

To become a leader in the first place
you must have the backing
not just of those you'll benefit
but also of many
who expect of you
benefits that you can't deliver

(and above all
they themselves don't know what they want
quite as you or anyone can't know
what the situation
as it develops
will make it possible
for anyone to deliver)

Once in, you'll be surrounded
by those who
being there to work your will
will tell you what
you want to hear.
And the combination
of your office
your body guard
and the media
will make it impossible
for you ever again
to know close up
those who were for you.

You'll discover that
no matter what you do
many who were for you
will want to drop out, whereat
you must shift your efforts
to the destruction of whatever freedoms
made it possible for you
to get there
in the first place.

However things turn out
they won't be at all
as you had planned
for even your successes
will organize the swing
into a counter-move . . .

Late Poems, 1968–1993

Attitudinizings Verse-wise, While Fending for One's Selph, and in a Style Somewhat Artificially Colloquial

Kenneth Burke
Edited by Julie Whitaker and David Blakesley
© 2005 by the University of South Carolina

The first publication of over 150 poems from Burke's final decades

6 x 9, 256 pages; cloth, 1-57003-589-X, $39.95s; Studies in Rhetoric/Communication, Thomas W. Benson, series editor

KB Journal is grateful to the University of South Carolina Press for permission republish Kenneth Burke's poetry.. Please visit the USC website to learn more about this book and others in the Studies in Rhetoric/Communication series. You can also download the flyer and order form (PDF format).