Sunday, June 24, 2012

Poetry in Unexpected Places

Did you know Abraham Lincoln, sixteenth president of the United States and writer of the Gettysburg Address, was also a poet?

I found this out while visiting his birthplace last week.  In a small shop near the monument at Sinking Springs, I found a very small book containing a compilation of his poetry.  It was all the more impressive after visiting the museum erected in his honor where I learned that Lincoln was mostly self-educated.  He had only a couple years of formal education in what was then called a blab school (due to the fact that they didn't have enough writing tools and therefore all the lessons were oral.)  As a young boy, he enjoyed writing out the letters of the alphabet in the dirt or snow, or even the dust on the window.

He was also a storyteller.  He'd sit at night and listen to his father telling stories, then run out to the fields the next day to recite the stories in a language his younger friends would understand.  They would gather around him and listen, transfixed by his abilities as both an orator and a storyteller, a skill I think that came in handy in his later years.

For a man from such a humble background, he was incredibly well-spoken, and his poetry is beautiful.  I thought I’d leave you with an excerpt from one of his poems about his early life.  Maybe if you’re thinking of seeing the movie Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter this week, you’ll first take a moment to appreciate the man that inspired the (somewhat obscure) film.

My Childhood Home I See Again
By Abraham Lincoln

"...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..."


  1. I never knew Abraham Lincoln wrote poetry, fascinating. He has always been my favorite president, and how awesome that he was a writer and a great story teller.

    I'm really enjoying these little snippets you are sharing from your vacation. Can't wait for the next installment. :)

  2. I didn't know that he was into poetry either. Interesting!

  3. This is awesome. Abraham Lincoln is fascinating. I'm reading Abraham Lincoln Vampire hunter right now, and I'm digging it.

    Travel safe!

  4. How fantastic is that? I wonder if any of the presidential contenders would be more likable if someone unearthed poetry they wrote while they were in college and it was that beautiful. :)


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