The following is posted by a new author of this blog, Jasper Davidoff.
I was looking around my email and I found an old poem that Grandpa Jerry sent me. Maybe because I live in Illinois or just cause it was special to him. He told me that it was the first poem he memorized. These are his exact words:
What follows is, except for nursery rhymes, the first poem I memorized. I think I was about eleven years old.
You will enjoy the poem more if you look up two words:
I remember, way back in 1941, reciting the poem at Lincoln's house when I went to Springfield with my mother, my father and my brother.And here is the poem:
Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight
(In Springfield, Illinois)
IT is portentous, and a thing of state
That here at midnight, in our little town
A mourning figure walks, and will not rest,
Near the old court-house pacing up and down,
Or by his homestead, or in shadowed yards
He lingers where his children used to play,
Or through the market, on the well-worn stones
He stalks until the dawn-stars burn away.
A bronzed, lank man! His suit of ancient black,
A famous high top-hat and plain worn shawl
Make him the quaint great figure that men love,
The prairie-lawyer, master of us all.
He cannot sleep upon his hillside now.
He is among us:—as in times before!
And we who toss and lie awake for long,
Breathe deep, and start, to see him pass the door.
His head is bowed. He thinks of men and kings.
Yea, when the sick world cries, how can he sleep?
Too many peasants fight, they know not why;
Too many homesteads in black terror weep.
The sins of all the war-lords burn his heart.
He sees the dreadnaughts scouring every main.
He carries on his shawl-wrapped shoulders now
The bitterness, the folly and the pain.
He cannot rest until a spirit-dawn
Shall come;—the shining hope of Europe free:
A league of sober folk, the Workers' Earth,
Bringing long peace to Cornland, Alp and Sea.
It breaks his heart that men must murder still,
That all his hours of travail here for men
Seem yet in vain. And who will bring white peace
That he may sleep upon his hill again?