Monday, April 11, 2016

PTSW: Abraham Lincoln was a poet

My Childhood-Home I See Again

by Abraham Lincoln
Our melancholy sixteenth president wrote wonderful prose that verged on poetry: the Gettysburg Address, the Second Inaugural; the Cooper's Union speech. But years before that he had a friend publish this poem anonymously. It is part of a series, of which only one other has survived. Not bad for a politician, huh?

    My childhood's home I see again,
        And sadden with the view;
    And still, as memory crowds my brain,
        There's pleasure in it too.
    O Memory! thou midway world
        'Twixt earth and paradise,
    Where things decayed and loved ones lost
        In dreamy shadows rise,
    And, freed from all that's earthly vile,
        Seem hallowed, pure, and bright,
    Like scenes in some enchanted isle
        All bathed in liquid light.
    As dusky mountains please the eye
        When twilight chases day;
    As bugle-tones that, passing by,
        In distance die away;
    As leaving some grand waterfall,
        We, lingering, list its roar—
    So memory will hallow all
        We've known, but know no more.
    Near twenty years have passed away
        Since here I bid farewell
    To woods and fields, and scenes of play,
        And playmates loved so well.
    Where many were, but few remain
        Of old familiar things;
    But seeing them, to mind again
        The lost and absent brings.
    The friends I left that parting day,
        How changed, as time has sped!
    Young childhood grown, strong manhood gray,
        And half of all are dead.
    I hear the loved survivors tell
        How nought from death could save,
    Till every sound appears a knell,
        And every spot a grave.
    I range the fields with pensive tread,
        And pace the hollow rooms,
    And feel (companion of the dead)
        I'm living in the tombs.