Please tell me how I got to be almost 68 years of age and did not know that President Abraham Lincoln was a poet? Why didn’t If figure this out? His speeches alone should have been a clue.
“Four score and seven years ago
Our fathers brought forth upon this continent a new nation,
Conceived in Liberty and dedicated to the proposition
That all men are created equal.”~ Gettysburg Address
“Fondly do we hope—
Fervently do we pray—
That this mighty scourge of war
May speedily pass away.”~2nd Inaugural Address
How many times have I read these speeches – taught them to my class and did not see the big hint right in front of me? Errrr… Just goes to show – we can be oblivious to things that are right in front of us and not have a clue!!
I love teaching again. I love discovering things I never knew, but now I’m kicking myself in the butt for not discovering all of this 40 years ago when I was teaching my poetry classes and speech classes. It could have added a whole new dimension to our discussions.
The power of Lincoln’s word choices and cadence became so clear as I went back through and started looking at his speeches through the eyes of the poet as well as the speech giver.
A man with a satirical sense of humor.
A man who wrote short poems in his boyhood math book.
A man longing for home.
A man chased – at times – by depression.
A man filled with compassion for the world around him.
A man who had faults like the rest of us.
A man who always tried to rise above the problems.
A poet-man with integrity.
Since I teach younger grades these days, I’m sticking with the his famous quote that he took from the Bible, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”[“Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.”~Matt 12:25 ] A beginning – a start – an introduction to our complicated, messy world and history.
For me, I’m fascinated by re-reading his 2nd Inaugural Address. As I read, his words take on new depth since our country seems to be tearing apart at the seams just as it was as he was President. Our social/cultural issues as divisive as they were in the 1860’s. It is as if I can hear his voice – his pauses in my head.
“Both read the same Bible…
Pray to the same God…
Each invokes his aid against the other.
It may seem strange
That any men should dare to ask
A just God’s assistance in wringing
Their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces;
But let us judge not,
That we be not judged.
The prayers of both
Could not be answered–
That of neither has been answered fully.”
If only all of us and our leaders would remember. It saved our nation once before – perhaps – if we find our knees again – our long-suffering, patient Father will hear from heaven and heal our land.