Thursday, July 01, 2010

Abraham Lincoln was a poet? (Friday's Sunday's Poem/Hot Actress 54)

My Childhood-Home I See Again
Abraham Lincoln

My childhood-home I see again,
….And gladden with the view;
And still as mem’ries crowd my brain,
….There’s sadness in it too.

O memory! thou mid-way world
….’Twixt Earth and Paradise,
Where things decayed, and loved ones lost
….In dreamy shadows rise.

And freed from all that’s gross or vile,
….Seem hallowed, pure, and bright,
Like scenes in some enchanted isle,
….All bathed in liquid light.

As distant mountains please the eye,
….When twilight chases day—
As bugle-tones, that, passing by,
….In distance die away—

As leaving some grand water-fall
….We ling’ring, list it’s roar,
So memory will hallow all
….We’ve known, but know no more.

Now twenty years have passed away,
….Since here I bid farewell
To woods, and fields, and scenes of play
….And school-mates loved so well.

Where many were, how few remain
….Of old familiar things!
But seeing these 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 grey,
….And half of all are dead.

I hear the lone 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 (companions of the dead)
….I’m living in the tombs.

And 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;

And 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 writhed and shrieked aloud,
….Your bones and sinnews bared;
And fiendish on the gaping crowd,
….With burning eye-balls glared.

And begged, and swore, and wept, and prayed,
….With maniac laughter joined—
How fearful are the signs displayed,
….By pangs that kill the mind!

And when at length, tho’ drear and long,
….Time soothed your fiercer woes—
How plaintively your 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 it’s strains, I’ve stole away,
….All silently and still,
Ere yet the rising god of day
….Had streaked the Eastern hill.

Air held his breath; the trees all still
….Seemed sorr’wing angels round,
Their swelling tears in dew-drops fell
….Upon the list’ning ground.

But this is past, and nought remains
….That raised you o’er the brute.
Your mad’ning shrieks and soothing strains
….Are like forever mute.

Now fare thee well: more thou the cause
….Than subject now of woe.
All mental pangs, but time’s kind laws,
….Hast lost the power to know.

And now away to seek some scene
….Less painful than the last—
With less of horror mingled in
….The present and the past.

The very spot where grew the bread
….That formed my bones, I see.
How strange, old field, on thee to tread,
….And feel I’m part of thee!

About the poem: I was going to try to find something patriotic, but I stumbled across that had poems for middle-schoolers, and out of curiosity checked out what poems they had there. Amongst the amazing offerings -- Bukowski, e e cummings and more poets that we never learned about in my middle school, a school where people protested 8th graders reading Salem's Lot -- were a poem by Abe Lincoln. I immediately began picturing Abe at a poetry slam, all emo, his beard shaved down to a sole patch, wearing a retro t-shirt featuring Space Invaders In StovePipe Hats. Then I went off to call my agent and pitch that as a show. Then I remembered I didn't have an agent, so I ate some toast instead.

About the Actress: Don't worry, Hunk lovers. When Sweetie proposed Jenna Fischer -- who will forever be Pam the way Bob Dnver will forever be Gilligan (or, for you younger people, the way Danielle Fishel will forever be Topanga), she also asked if I wasn't going to feature men as the Hot Actress (which I'll do if you want). I suggested bringing back the Hunk Of The Week in some form, and Sweetie agreed -- so you'll be seeing that, too.

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