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The Weblog at The View from the Core - Wed. 04/15/09 09:03:48 PM
   
         
         
   

Abraham Lincoln, RIP

Abraham Lincoln died this day, April 15, 1865. It does not seem inappropriate to appropriate his words on the death, July 9, 1850, of former President Zachary Taylor; Lincoln concluded his eulogy, July 25, 1850, with a lengthy quotation from his own favorite poem, "Mortality" by William Knox (emphasis in original).

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The death of the late President may not be without its use, in reminding us, that we, too, must die. Death, abstractly considered, is the same with the high as with the low; but practically, we are not so much aroused to the contemplation of our own mortal natures, by the fall of many undistinguished, as that of one great, and well known, name. By the latter, we are forced to muse, and ponder, sadly.

"Oh, why should the spirit of mortal be proud"

So the multitude goes, like the flower or the weed,
That withers away to let others succeed;
So the multitude comes, even those we behold,
To repeat every tale that has often been told.

For we are the same, our fathers have been,
We see the same sights our fathers have seen;
We drink the same streams and see the same sun
And run the same course our fathers have run.

They loved; but the story we cannot unfold;
They scorned, but the heart of the haughty is cold;
They grieved, but no wail from their slumbers will come,
They joyed, but the tongue of their gladness is dumb.

They died! Aye, they died; we things that are now;
That work on the turf that lies on their brow,
And make in their dwellings a transient abode,
Meet the things that they met on their pilgrimage road.

Yea! hope and despondency, pleasure and pain,
Are mingled together in sun-shine and rain;
And the smile and the tear, and the song and the dirge,
Still follow each other, like surge upon surge.

'Tis the wink of an eye, 'tis the draught of a breath,
From the blossoms of health, to the paleness of death.
From the gilded saloon, to the bier and the shroud.
Oh, why should the spirit of mortal be proud!

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Of Knox's poem, Lincoln had earlier written in a letter to Andrew Johnston, April 18, 1846:

.... I have not your letter now before me; but, from memory, I think you ask me who is the author of the piece I sent you, and that you do so ask as to indicate a slight suspicion that I myself am the author. Beyond all question, I am not the author. I would give all I am worth, and go in debt, to be able to write so fine a piece as I think that is. Neither do I know who is the author. I met it in a straggling form in a newspaper last summer, and I remember to have seen it once before, about fifteen years ago, and this is all I know about it....

(At this time, I cannot link to the on-line database of Lincoln's Collected Works because the site is returning an error.)

Lane Core Jr. CIW P — Wed. 04/15/09 09:03:48 PM
Categorized as Historical & Literary & Speeches and Suchlike.

   
         
         

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