Note from Joe: We are not accustomed to think of Abraham Lincoln as a poet, but he wrote several compositions in verse form. He wrote the following poem in 1846, when he was 37 years old. He probably did not intend it to be added to any “Poem of the Week” list, but it always impresses me when I read it. Notice how the mood changes from beginning to end.
My childhood’s home I see again,
And sadden with the view;
And still, as memory crowds my brain,
There’s pleasure in it, too.
O memory! thou midway world
’Twixt earth and paradise,
Where things decayed and loved ones lost
In dreamy shadows rise,
And, freed from all that’s earthly, vile,
Seem hallowed, pure and bright,
Like scenes in some enchanted isle
All bathed in liquid light.
As dusky mountains please the eye
When twilight chases day;
As bugle notes that, passing by,
In distance die away;
As leaving some grand waterfall,
We, lingering, list its roar --
So memory will hallow all
We’ve known but know no more.
Near twenty years have passed away
Since here I bid farewell
To woods and fields, and scenes of play,
And playmates loved so well.
The friends I left that parting day
How changed, as time has sped!
Young childhood grown, strong manhood gray;
And half of all are dead.
I hear the loved 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 (companion of the dead)
I’m living in the tombs.