Thursday, February 12, 2009

Poems for Lincoln Bicentennial

Today Feb 12 is the 200th birthday of Abraham Lincoln, out most poetic president. Time for rounds of Whitman...others, even Lincoln himself

Oh Captain! My Captain!
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.

When lilacs last in the doorway bloomed
And the great star early droop’d in the western sky in the night,
I mourn’d—and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring.

Both poems are from Leaves of Grass

More Lincoln poems, most of the poets here seem dated today. but Whitman, like his near contemporaries Wordsworth and Baudelaire and fellow wanderers of city streets, is as alive today as he was in his lifetime.

Lincoln as poet and avid reader of poetry: Shakespeare, Lord Byron, Robert Browning, Thomas Gray, Thomas Hood, Oliver Wendell Holmes, William Cullen Bryant, John Greenleaf Whittier, Fitz-Greene Halleck, and, second only to Shakespeare, Robert Burns. As poetic prose or prose poem, Lincoln's Gettysburg Address equals any of these and surpasses more than a few.

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