Poems by Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln enjoyed poetry, both reading and writing it. He started writing poetry early in his teens. The first two examples here were written when he was fourteen and seventeen years old. The website from the Library of Congress: http://www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/prespoetry/al.html is a good site to explore for more on Lincoln the poet. The Suicide’s Soliloquy is believed to be written by Lincoln, but as explained at the Library of Congress site not all specialists in the field are certain. The last poem in this section, “Verse on Lee’s Invasion of the North” Lincoln wrote from the perspective of General Lee. It is the last known verse penned by the sixteenth president.
His hand and pen:
He will be good but
God knows when.
Abraham Lincoln Is My Name
Abraham Lincoln is my name
And with my pen I wrote the same
I wrote in both hast and speed
and left it here for fools to read
The Suicide’s Soliloquy
Here, where the lonely hooting owl
Sends forth his midnight moans,
Fierce wolves shall o’er my carcass growl,
Or buzzards pick my bones.
No fellow-man shall learn my fate,
Or where my ashes lie;
Unless by beasts drawn round their bait,
Or by the ravens’ cry.
Yes! I’ve resolved the deed to do,
And this the place to do it:
This heart I’ll rush a dagger through,
Though I in hell should rue it!
Hell! What is hell to one like me
Who pleasures never know;
By friends consigned to misery,
By hope deserted too?
To ease me of this power to think,
That through my bosom raves,
I’ll headlong leap from hell’s high brink,
And wallow in its waves.
Though devils yell, and burning chains
May waken long regret;
Their frightful screams, and piercing pains,
Will help me to forget.
Yes! I’m prepared, through endless night,
To take that fiery berth!
Think not with tales of hell to fright
Me, who am damn’d on earth!
Sweet steel! come forth from our your sheath,
And glist’ning, speak your powers;
Rip up the organs of my breath,
And draw my blood in showers!
I strike! It quivers in that heart
Which drives me to this end;
I draw and kiss the bloody dart,
My last—my only friend!
My Childhood’s Home I See Again
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-notes 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, how 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.
But here’s an object more of dread
Than ought the grave contains—
A human form with reason fled,
While wretched life remains.
Poor Matthew! Once of genius bright,
A fortune-favored child—
Now locked for aye, in mental night,
A haggard mad-man wild.
Poor Matthew! I have ne’er forgot
When first, with maddened will,
Yourself you maimed, your father fought,
And mother strove to kill;
When terror spread, and neighbours ran,
Your dang’rous strength to bind;
And soon, a howling crazy man
Your limbs were fast confined.
How then you strove and shrieked aloud,
Your bones and sinnews bared;
And fiendish on the gazing crowd,
With burning eye-balls glared—
And begged, and swore, and wept and prayed
With maniac laughter joined—
How fearful were those signs displayed
By pangs that killed thy mind!
And when at length, tho’ drear and long,
Time soothed thy fiercer woes,
How plaintively thy mournful song,
Upon the still night rose.
I’ve heard it oft, as if I dreamed,
Far-distant, sweet, and lone—
The funeral dirge, it ever seemed
Of reason dead and gone.
To drink its strains, I’ve stole away,
All stealthily and still,
Ere yet the rising God of day
Had streaked the Eastern hill.
Air held his breath; trees, with the spell,
Seemed sorrowing angels round,
Whose swelling tears in dew-drops fell
Upon the listening ground.
But this is past; and nought remains,
That raised thee o’er the brute.
Thy piercing shrieks, and soothing strains,
Are like, forever mute.
Now fare thee well—more thou the cause,
Than subject now of woe.
All mental pangs, by time’s kind laws,
Hast lost the power to know.
O death! Thou awe-inspiring prince,
That keepst the world in fear;
Why dost thou tear more blest ones hence,
And leave him ling’ring here?
Verse On Lee’s Invasion of the North
Gen. Lees invasion of the North written by himself—
In eighteen sixty three, with pomp,
and mighty swell,
Me and Jeff’s Confederacy, went
forth to sack Phil-del,
The Yankees the got arter us, and
giv us particular hell,
And we skedaddled back again,
And didn’t sack Phil-del.