Post Reply 
Who wrote the lines of poetry "quoted" by Lincoln at the Soldiers' Home?
01-21-2016, 11:56 AM
Post: #1
Who wrote the lines of poetry "quoted" by Lincoln at the Soldiers' Home?
I was reading last night from F. B. Carpenter's book "The Inner Life of Abraham Lincoln, Six Months at the White House" (p. 224) the two poetry quotes by Lincoln to the women at the Soldiers' Home cemetery and wanted to know who was the poet and the name of the poem from which Lincoln quoted. I was able to find the first two lines with a Google book search: “How Sleep the Brave” by William Collins (1746). But a similar search for the second two lines which Lincoln "afterwards quoted" -- "And women o'er the graves shall weep, Where nameless heroes calmly sleep." - I could not find either the name of the poet or the poem.

Is it possible that Lincoln himself became the anonymous poet in that moment, in that place, in the fall of 1864?

The complete narrative from one of the women’s story in the San Francisco Bulletin, as written by Carpenter at pages 223-24, reads as follows:

The ‘Home’ only admitted soldiers of the regular army; but in the graveyard near at hand there are numberless graves – some without a spear of grass to hide their newness – that hold the bodies of volunteers.

While we stood in the soft evening air, watching the faint trembling of the long tendrils of waving willow, and feeling the dewy coolness that that was flung out by the old oaks above us, Mr. Lincoln joined us, and stood silent, too, taking in the scene,

“How sleep the brave, who sink to rest
By all their country’s wishes blest,” –
he said, softly.

There was something so touching in the picture opened before us, -- the nameless graves, the solemn quiet, the tender twilight air, but more particularly our own feminine disposition to be easily melted, I suppose, -- that it made us cry as if we stood beside the tomb of our own dead, and gave point to the lines which he afterwards quoted: --

“And women o’er the graves shall weep,
Where nameless heroes calmly sleep.”

"So very difficult a matter is it to trace and find out the truth of anything by history." -- Plutarch
Find all posts by this user
Quote this message in a reply
Post Reply 


Messages In This Thread
Who wrote the lines of poetry "quoted" by Lincoln at the Soldiers' Home? - David Lockmiller - 01-21-2016 11:56 AM

Forum Jump:


User(s) browsing this thread: 2 Guest(s)