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    "There are obviously two educations. One should teach us how to make a living and the other how to live."
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    We're a Canadian family of five, farming and home schooling. I'm nowhere near as regular a blogger as I used to be.

    The kids are 17/Grade 12, 15/Grade 10, and 13/Grade 9.

    Contact me at becky.farmschool@gmail.com

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Poetry Friday: For Abraham Lincoln

For Abraham Lincoln, whose birthday was on Tuesday, February 12th, because we don’t remember him, or his poets, as often as we did, as often as we should:

Abraham Lincoln
(1809-1865)
by Rosemary and Stephen Vincent Benét, from A Book of Americans

Lincoln was a long man.
He liked the out of doors.
He liked the wind blowing
And the talk in country stores.

He liked telling stories.
He liked telling jokes.
“Abe’s quite a character,”
Said quite a lot of folks.

Lots of folks in Springfield
Saw him every day,
Walking down the street
In his gaunt, long way.

Shawl around his shoulders,
Letters in his hat.
“That’s Abe Lincoln.”
They thought no more than that.

Knew that he was honest,
Guessed that he was odd,
Knew he had a cross wife
Though she was a Todd.

Knew he had three little boys
Who liked to shout and play,
Knew he had a lot of debts
It took him years to pay.

Knew his clothes and knew his house.
“That’s his office, here.
Blame good lawyer, on the whole,
Though he’s sort of queer.

“Sure he went to Congress, once.
But he didn’t stay.
Can’t expect us all to be
Smart as Henry Clay.

“Need a man for troubled times?
Well, I guess we do.
Wonder who we’ll ever find?
Yes — I wonder who.”

That is how they met and talked,
Knowing and unknowing.
Lincoln was the green pine.
Lincoln kept on growing.

O Captain! My Captain! from Leaves of Grass
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;
Here 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.

* * *

I was looking for some extra links to add to this post and found these, at AbrahamLincolnOnline.org:

Poems written about Abraham Lincoln

Poetry written by Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln’s favorite poem

as well as a link to this Atlantic Monthly article, “Poetry and American Memory” by then-Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky, from October 1999 (part 1 and part 2)

HipWriterMama is hosting today’s Poetry Friday round-up, and she also has the perfect Hilaire Belloc poem to help keep her first grader’s classmates scared straight in line when it comes to looking after books. Thanks, HPW!

6 Responses

  1. I love the Lincold poem! I have told some of my teacher friends about your blog. I so appreciate all the work you put into finding good stuff.

  2. I’m so glad, Mrs. G. And thanks for spreading the word. I use the blog as my own sort of bulletin board/Rolodex, and I’m always pleased when someone else can get some use out of some of my — admittedly rather bizarre and old-fashioned — interests that I foist on my own family.

  3. Thank you for the Benets’ poem about Abraham Lincoln! It has been one of my favorites for many years although it’s surprisingly difficult to find on the web. Apparently, the Benets’ poem about Nancy Hanks is better-known and more popular… My church will use the Abraham Lincoln poem when it celebrates Lincoln’s 200th birthday. The words “Lincoln kept on growing” are always appropriate…. Like every other human being who has ever lived, Abraham Lincoln had human faults. As they do a bit of reading, students will discover Lincoln’s critics and some students will want to move beyond Lincoln. Still, the man is worth a second look. “Lincoln kept on growing.” He wasn’t perfect but, still, he was a great leader…. He’s still worthy of celebration.

  4. I dissected this poem in my AP English class. It seemed so juvenile at the time when we were reading it, but as we discussed I realized the beauty in the simple poetry.
    Thank you for posting it here. :)

  5. I am still struck by the impact of Walt Whitman’s “O Captain! My Captain!” He was able to put into words what millions of Americans were feeling at that time when President Lincoln was assassinated. Wonderfully done!
    “Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!
    But I, with mournful tread,
    Walk the deck my Captain lies,
    Fallen cold and dead.”

  6. My wonderful fifth grade English teacher had my class memorize the Lincoln poem. I can still recite it after forty years. Thank you Mrs. Hume.

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