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Abraham Lincoln Poems

Table of Contents

  1. O Captain! My Captain! by Walt Whitman
  2. Lincoln by Annette Wynne
  3. Lincoln at Gettysburg by Bernhardt Paul Holst
  4. The Lincoln Cent by Amos Russel Wells
  5. Had Lincoln Lived by Amos Russel Wells
  6. Lincoln, the Man of the People by Edwin Markham
  7. To Abraham Lincoln by Georgia Douglas Johnson
  8. Mortality by William Knox

  1. O Captain! My Captain!

    by Walt Whitman

    O Captain! My Captain! our fearful trip is done;
    The ship has weather'd every rack, the prize we sought is won;
    The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
    While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:

    But O heart! heart! heart!
    O the bleeding drops of red,
    Where on the deck my Captain lies,
    Fallen cold and dead.

    O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
    Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills;
    For you bouquets and ribbon'd wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding;
    For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;

    O captain! dear father!
    This arm beneath your head;
    It is some dream that on the deck,
    You've fallen cold and dead.

    My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;
    My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;
    The ship is anchor'd safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
    From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won;

    Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!
    But I, with mournful tread,
    Walk the deck my captain lies,
    Fallen cold and dead.

  2. Lincoln

    by Annette Wynne

    A log cabin, rude and rough—
    This was house and home enough
    For one small boy; there in the chimney place
    With glowing face
    The eager young eyes learned to trace
    Staunch old tales of staunch old men;
    In the firelight there and then
    The soul of Lincoln grew—
    And no one knew!
    Only the great and bitter strife
    Of later days brought into life
    Great deeds that blossomed in the gloom
    Of that dim shadowy firelit room.

  3. Lincoln at Gettysburg

    by Bernhardt Paul Holst

    Fourscore and seven years ago
    Upon the continent was born
    A nation new, as well we know,
    Which heralds forth the golden morn.
    Conceived in liberty and right,
    This land is given to the free,
    And all are equal, none by might
    Shall e'er debased or cowered be.

    A civil war of mighty power
    Is testing now our country's strength,
    The issues of this very hour
    May cause the nation's death at length.
    We're met upon this battle-field
    A final resting place to give
    To those who fought, and would not yield,
    That this, their nation, still might live.

    We cannot consecrate this ground
    Since the brave men who struggled here,
    With sabers bare, at cannon's mouth,
    Have hallowed it and made it dear;
    The world will little note our needs
    Or long remember what we say,
    But never can forget their deeds,
    As they fought nobly in the fray.

    It is for us—those living now—
    To be devoted to the cause,
    To take a consecration vow,
    And still the booming cannons' jaws
    The honored dead should give us cheer.
    Should us inspire with hope and life,
    Should banish every doubt and fear
    And quicken us to win the strife.

    Let us resolve that those who died
    For us shall not have died in vain,
    Let us be firm on freedom's side
    And loyal to the cause remain;
    We pray that this land, under God,
    Of freedom shall have a new birth,
    That liberty, won by the sword,
    Shall not perish from the earth.

  4. The Lincoln Cent

    by Amos Russel Wells

    Pleasant is the mellow tinkle
    Of the golden eagle grand,
    Pleasant is the kindly jingle
    Of good sliver in the hand;
    But the little bit of copper
    On its humble errand bent
    Is the king of all our coins:
    Hats off to the Lincoln cent!

    I am glad they put him on it,
    On the lowly copper bit,
    Not upon the lordly eagle
    For a banker's fingers fit;
    For he loved the common people,
    And he wished no other fate
    Than that common folk should love him,
    They, the basis of the state,

    But I wish they'd put him on it
    Of full length, the Lincoin size,
    Tall and gaunt as stands a pine-tree,
    Tall and stately for men's eyes.
    He was awkward, so they tell me;
    Be it so, and who would care
    When they saw him like a column
    Firm and patient standing there?

    So he walks among the people
    Much as when he lived on earth,
    In the ways of homely traffic,
    And of simple, gentle worth.
    Still he walks among the people
    On our common errands bent,
    Copper king of all our coins;
    Hats off to the Lincoin cent!

  5. Had Lincoln Lived

    by Amos Russel Wells

    Had Lincoin lived,
    How would his hand, so gentle yet so strong,
    Have closed the gaping wounds of ancient wrong;
    How would his merry jests, the way he smiled,
    Our sundered hearts to union have beguiled;
    How would the South from his just rule have learned
    That enemies to neighbors may be turned,
    And how the North, with his sagacious art,
    Have learned the power of a trusting heart;
    What follies had been spared us, and what stain,
    What seeds of bitterness that still remain,
    Had Lincoin lived!

    With Lincoln dead,
    Ten million men in substitute for one
    Must do the noble deeds he would have done;
    Must lift the freedman with discerning care,
    Nor house him in a castle of the air;
    Must join the North and South in every good,
    Fused in co-operating brotherhood;
    Must banish enmity with his good cheer,
    And slay with sunshine every rising fear;
    Like him to dare, and trust, and sacrifice,
    Ten million lesser Lincolns must arise,
    With Lincoin dead.

  6. Lincoln, the Man of the People

    by Edwin Markham. This poem was read by Edwin Markham at the dedication of the Lincoln Memorial at Washington, D.C., May 30, 1922. Before reading, he said: "No oration, no poem, can rise to the high level of this historic hour. Nevertheless, I venture to inscribe this revised version of my Lincoln poem to this stupendous Lincoln Memorial, to this far-shining monument of remembrance, erected in immortal marble to the honor of our deathless martyr—the consecrated statesman, the ideal American, the ever-beloved friend of humanity."

    When the Norn Mother saw the Whirlwind Hour
    Greatening and darkening as it hurried on,
    She left the Heaven of Heroes and came down
    To make a man to meet the mortal need,
    She took the tried clay of the common road—
    Clay warm yet with the genial heat of Earth,
    Dasht through it all a strain of prophecy;
    Tempered the heap with thrill of human tears;
    Then mixt a laughter with the serious stuff.
    Into the shape she breathed a flame to light
    That tender, tragic, ever-changing face;
    And laid on him a sense of the Mystic Powers,
    Moving—all husht—behind the mortal veil.
    Here was a man to hold against the world,
    A man to match the mountains and the sea.

    The color of the ground was in him, the red earth;
    The smack and tang of elemental things;
    The rectitude and patience of the cliff;
    The good-will of the rain that loves all leaves;
    The friendly welcome of the wayside well;
    The courage of the bird that dares the sea;
    The gladness of the wind that shakes the corn;
    The pity of the snow that hides all scars;
    The secrecy of streams that make their way
    Under the mountain to the rifted rock;
    The tolerance and equity of light
    That gives as freely to the shrinking flower
    As to the great oak flaring to the wind—
    To the grave's low hill as to the Matterhorn
    That shoulders out the sky. Sprung from the West,
    He drank the valorous youth of a new world.
    The strength of virgin forests braced his mind,
    The hush of spacious prairies stilled his soul.
    His words were oaks in acorns; and his thoughts
    Were roots that firmly gript the granite truth.

    Up from log cabin to the Capitol,
    One fire was on his spirit, one resolve—
    To send the keen ax to the root of wrong,
    Clearing a free way for the feet of God,
    The eyes of conscience testing every stroke,
    To make his deed the measure of a man.
    He built the rail-pile as he built the State,
    Pouring his splendid strength through every blow;
    The grip that swung the ax in Illinois
    Was on the pen that set a people free.

    So came the Captain with the mighty heart;
    And when the judgment thunders split the house,
    Wrenching the rafters from their ancient rest,
    He held the ridgepole up, and spikt again
    The rafters of the Home. He held his place—
    Held the long purpose like a growing tree—
    Held on through blame and faltered not at praise.
    And when he fell in whirlwind, he went down
    As when a lordly cedar, green with boughs,
    Goes down with a great shout upon the hills,
    And leaves a lonesome place against the sky.

  7. To Abraham Lincoln

    by Georgia Douglas Johnson

    Within the temple of our heart
    Your sacred memory dwells apart,
    Where ceaselessly a censor swings
    Alight with fragrant offerings;
    Nor time, nor tide, nor circumstance
    Can dim this grand remembrance,
    And all the blood of Afric hue
    Beats in one mighty tide—for you!

  8. Mortality

    by William Knox

    Oh why should the spirit of mortal be proud!
    Like a fast flitting meteor, a fast-flying cloud,
    A flash of the lightning, a break of the wave—
    He passeth from life to his rest in the grave.

    The leaves of the oak and the willow shall fade,
    Be scattered around, and together be laid;
    And the young and the old, and the low and the high,
    Shall moulder to dust, and together shall lie.

    The infant a mother attended and loved,
    The mother that infant's affection that proved,
    The husband that mother and infant that blest,
    Each—all are away to their dwellings of rest.

    The maid on whose cheek, on whose brow, in whose eye,
    Shone beauty and pleasure,—her triumphs are by:
    And the memory of those who loved her and praised,
    Are alike from the minds of the living erased.

    The hand of the king that the sceptre hath borne,
    The brow of the priest that the mitre hath worn,
    The eye of the sage, and the heart of the brave,
    Are hidden and lost in the depths of the grave.

    The peasant whose lot was to sow and to reap,
    The herdsman who climbed with his goats up the steep,
    The beggar that wandered in search of his bread,
    Have faded away like the grass that we tread.

    The saint that enjoyed the communion of Heaven,
    The sinner that dared to remain unforgiven,
    The wise and the foolish, the guilty and just,
    Have quietly mingled their bones in the dust.

    So the multitude goes—like the flower or the weed
    That withers away to let others succeed;
    So the multitude comes—even those we behold,
    To repeat every tale that has often been told.

    For we are the same things that our fathers have been,
    We see the same sights our fathers have seen,
    We drink the same stream, we view the same sun,
    And we run the same course that our fathers have run.

    The thoughts we are thinking our fathers would think,
    From the death we are shrinking from they too would shrink,
    To the life we are clinging to they too would cling—
    But it speeds from the earth like a bird on the wing.

    They loved—but their story we cannot unfold;
    They scorned—but the heart of the haughty is cold;
    They grieved—but no wail from their slumbers may come;
    They joyed—but the voice of their gladness is dumb.

    They died—ay, they died! and we, things that are now,
    Who walk on the turf that lies over their brow,
    Who make in their dwellings a transient abode,
    Meet the things that they met on their pilgrimage road.

    Yea, hope and despondence, and pleasure and pain,
    Are mingled together in sunshine and rain;
    And the smile and the tear, the song and the dirge,
    Still follow each other like surge upon surge.

    'Tis the twink of an eye, 'tis the draught of a breath,
    From the blossom of health to the paleness of death,
    From the gilded saloon to the bier and the shroud—
    O why should the spirit of mortal be proud!

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