My daughter and I recently took a trip to Washington D.C. The first place I visited was Ford's Theatre, which I will share in my next post. This is, of course, the statue at the Lincoln Memorial. The view overlooking the reflecting water and the Washington Monument (which Lincoln gazes at eternally) was a bit disappointing as the water was drained for repairs.
Standing beneath this imposing stature and looking up is awe inspiring, although something tells me Lincoln would not like it as he was a humble spirit. But beneath this gaze, I felt hope, and I'm glad he has been honored in this way.
Upon gleaming stone
rests a finger,
and a fist
Eyes gaze steadily,
while a foot
A life force
united with our Maker,
by Margaret Bednar, Art Happens 365, July 4, 2012
Would you like to hear me read this poem?
Check this out on Chirbit
I linked the above poem up with "dVerse Poet's Pub - Open Link Night". Please skip on over if you want to view some FINE poetry. Also posted this over at "Poetic Asides" - Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 182
And did you know he was a poet? Below is an excerpt from the Library of Congress site on Lincoln:
Lincoln became interested in poetry around the age of twelve, and remained an avid reader of poetry throughout his life. His earliest exposure to poetry likely came through Thomas Dilworth's literacy textbook A New Guide to the English Tongue, which included several short poems. When his widowed father Thomas married Sarah Bush Johnston in 1819, she brought to the household a small library that included William Scott'sLessons in Elocution, a gathering of poetry and prose for youth. It was from Scott's anthology, which Lincoln began reading seriously around 1825, that he first came into contact with many poems and poets that remained lifelong favorites, including Shakespeare, who ranked supreme in Lincoln's literary pantheon. In an 1863 letter to comedic actor James Hackett, who had recently published the book Notes and Comments upon Certain Plays and Actors of Shakespeare, with Criticisms and Correspondence, Lincoln outlined his familiarity with Shakespeare's works:
Some of Shakespeare's plays I have never read; while others I have gone over perhaps as frequently as any unprofessional reader. Among the latter are Lear, Richard Third, Henry Eighth, Hamlet and especially Macbeth. I think nothing equals Macbeth. It is wonderful. Unlike you gentlemen of the profession, I think the soliloquy in Hamlet commencing "Oh my offense is rank" surpasses that commencing, "To be or not to be."
Other poets whose work Lincoln enjoyed included Lord Byron, Thomas Gray, Thomas Hood, Oliver Wendell Holmes, John Greenleaf Whittier, Fitz-Greene Halleck, and, second only to Shakespeare, Robert Burns. [2, 3, 4] Lincoln's love of Burns's poetry was so widely known during his presidency that he received many invitations to annual celebrations of the Scotsman's birthday. When Alexander Williamson, the secretary of the Washington Burns club, wrote Lincoln asking him to recognize the "the genius of Scotland's bard," Lincoln replied: "I cannot frame a toast to Burns. I can say nothing worthy of his generous heart and transcendent genius. Thinking of what he has said, I cannot say anything worth saying.”
Not only did Lincoln read poetry, but he memorized large swaths which he frequently recited to friends and inserted into conversation. His favorite poem, which he recited so often that people suspected Lincoln was the author, was William Knox's "Mortality," or, "Oh, Why should the Spirit of Mortal be Proud?" So great was Lincoln's affection for the poem that he once wrote, "I would give all I am worth, and go in debt, to be able to write so fine a piece as I think that is." Other favorite poems Lincoln committed to memory were Oliver Wendell Holmes’ "The Last Leaf" and Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven." Both are examples of the gloomy, melancholic poetry of which Lincoln was so fond and at which he would try his own hand.
In addition to his poetic prose, exemplified by the Gettysburg Address, Lincoln was the author of several capable poems. The Library of Congress' Presidents as Poets Web site includes the text of these poems and historical information about their composition.
I have read many books on this great man. I think "Team of Rivals" I will be reading off and on for the next year as it is rather... well, long. But one book I am having a bit of fun with is "Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Slayer" (I'm a bit embarrassed to admit this... :)