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Lincoln's Poetry
09-30-2020, 05:24 AM
Post: #1
Smile Lincoln's Poetry
Well not so much poetry as verse.

"A sweet plaintive song did I hear
And I fancied she was the singer
May emotions as pure, as the song sets a-stir
Be the worst that the future shall bring her"

Lincoln wrote this in 1858
Anyone know, or can find out the circumstances behind this short verse?

So when is this "Old Enough To Know Better" supposed to kick in?
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09-30-2020, 05:53 AM
Post: #2
RE: Lincoln's Poetry
Gene, I found this:

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Lincoln continued to compose poems in subsequent years, though none as substantial as those written in 1846. On September 28, 1858, Lincoln wrote the following verses "in the autograph album of Rosa Haggard, daughter of the proprietor of the hotel at Winchester, Illinois, where he stayed when speaking at that place on the same date":

To Rosa—
You are young, and I am older;
You are hopeful, I am not—
Enjoy life, ere it grow colder—
Pluck the roses ere they rot.

Teach your beau to heed the lay—
That sunshine soon is lost in shade—
That now's as good as any day—
To take thee, Rose, ere she fade.

Similarly, on September 30, 1858, Lincoln wrote the following verse to Rosa's sister Linnie Haggard:

To Linnie—
A sweet plaintive song did I hear,
And I fancied that she was the singer—
May emotions as pure, as that song set a-stir
Be the worst that the future shall bring her.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

https://www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/prespoetry/al.html
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09-30-2020, 09:08 AM
Post: #3
RE: Lincoln's Poetry
(09-30-2020 05:53 AM)RJNorton Wrote:  Gene, I found this:

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Lincoln continued to compose poems in subsequent years, though none as substantial as those written in 1846. On September 28, 1858, Lincoln wrote the following verses "in the autograph album of Rosa Haggard, daughter of the proprietor of the hotel at Winchester, Illinois, where he stayed when speaking at that place on the same date":

To Rosa—
You are young, and I am older;
You are hopeful, I am not—
Enjoy life, ere it grow colder—
Pluck the roses ere they rot.

Teach your beau to heed the lay—
That sunshine soon is lost in shade—
That now's as good as any day—
To take thee, Rose, ere she fade.

Similarly, on September 30, 1858, Lincoln wrote the following verse to Rosa's sister Linnie Haggard:

To Linnie—
A sweet plaintive song did I hear,
And I fancied that she was the singer—
May emotions as pure, as that song set a-stir
Be the worst that the future shall bring her.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

https://www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/prespoetry/al.html

Magnificent poetry. It is the first time that I heard of this. I wonder if Rosa's beau took heed by these words.

"So very difficult a matter is it to trace and find out the truth of anything by history." -- Plutarch
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09-30-2020, 10:30 AM
Post: #4
RE: Lincoln's Poetry
(09-30-2020 09:08 AM)David Lockmiller Wrote:  Magnificent poetry. It is the first time that I heard of this. I wonder if Rosa's beau took heed by these words.

Same for me David. This morning was the first time I'd seen what he wrote for Linnie and then later Roger's post was a nice surprise. Thanks Roger.
I'm not much of a poetry reader, so it's fun to share and learn some little detail about Lincoln that's outside my normal area of interest.

Hope everyone keeps posting, there is always something new to learn, and learn again what we forgot.

So when is this "Old Enough To Know Better" supposed to kick in?
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09-30-2020, 12:38 PM
Post: #5
RE: Lincoln's Poetry
(09-30-2020 09:08 AM)David Lockmiller Wrote:  I wonder if Rosa's beau took heed by these words.

David, I tried to find her in a book titled History of the Haggard family in England and America, 1433 to 1899. Unfortunately the print was so light on my screen that I could not read it.

https://archive.org/details/historyofhag...7/mode/2up
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09-30-2020, 02:36 PM
Post: #6
RE: Lincoln's Poetry
Illinois State Historian Sam Wheeler wrote his doctoral dissertation on Lincoln's poetry. He places the "Rosa" and "Linnie" poems in the context of Lincoln's view that his early life up to that point had been a failure. Noting that in 1856, Lincoln wrote of his time with Stephen A. Douglas, Wheeler writes, "With his term in Congress no doubt still on his mind seven years after it ended, Lincoln reflected on the disparate paths he and his more successful political rival had traveled thus far in life:
Twenty-two years ago Judge Douglas and I first became acquainted.
We were both young then; he a trifle younger than I. Even then, we
were both ambitious; I, perhaps, quite as much so as he. With me, the
race of ambition has been a failure—a flat failure; with him it has been
one of splendid success. His name fills the nation; and it is not
unknown, even, in foreign lands.

"Lincoln was still searching for the moral of the story a decade after his term in Congress ended. When a young girl asked him for his autograph during his celebrated debates with Douglas, Lincoln not only gave her his signature, but he also scribbled an eight-line poem for his young admirer (Wheeler then reprints the verse)

"While the verses might well-be original, the message was certainly a familiar one: make the most of today because there is no guarantee you will see tomorrow. Like the Roman poets Horace and Virgil, Lincoln was urging young Rosa to embrace carpe diem and “seize the day." Working within the same genre, Lincoln’s verses closely resemble the seventeenth century classic “To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time” by Robert Herrick:
Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today
Tomorrow will be dying.


Sam later writes, "Two days after Lincoln inscribed Rosa’s autograph book, her sister Linnie, worked up the courage to ask Lincoln for his signature. Again, he obliged, but this time, he added a four-line poem bearing a similar message: (He then repeats the verse)

"While Congress had been a flat failure, the four years following his time in the nation’s capitol proved far more excruciating. By the time he composed his autograph verses to Rosa and Linnie, life had confronted him with the message his favorite poem had defined by extremes. Life had indeed taken place along the slender divide separated by “hope and despondency,” “pleasure and pain,” and “sunshine and rain,” it had been punctuated by “smiles and tears,” as well as “the song and the dirge.” If he had any advice to impart on his young admirers, it was to embrace “the blossom of health” before they too were confronted by “the paleness of death.” (Samuel P. Wheeler, Every Spot a Grave; The Poetry of Abraham Lincoln, Ph.D. dissertation, Southern Illinois University, pgs. 320-323)

Best
Rob

Abraham Lincoln in the only man, dead or alive, with whom I could have spent five years without one hour of boredom.
--Ida M. Tarbell

I want the respect of intelligent men, but I will choose for myself the intelligent.
--Carl Sandburg
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09-30-2020, 03:33 PM
Post: #7
RE: Lincoln's Poetry
(09-30-2020 12:38 PM)RJNorton Wrote:  
(09-30-2020 09:08 AM)David Lockmiller Wrote:  I wonder if Rosa's beau took heed by these words.

David, I tried to find her in a book titled History of the Haggard family in England and America, 1433 to 1899. Unfortunately the print was so light on my screen that I could not read it.

https://archive.org/details/historyofhag...7/mode/2up

Thanks, Roger. Good effort.

At the time of the following story which took place in 1862, President Lincoln must have recalled his earlier effort in Winchester, Illinois.

When the desire of the Navy officer to marry came to Lincoln’s attention, the president wrote to Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles:

Executive Mansion. Washington, Aug. 2, 1862
Hon. Sec. of Navy

My dear Sir

Lieutenant Commanding James W.A. Nicholson, now commanding the Isaac Smith, wishes to be married, and from evidence now before me, I believe there is a young lady who sympathizes with him in that wish under these circumstances, please allow him the requisite leave of absence, if the public service can safely endure it.

Yours truly
A. Lincoln

(Two weeks later a newspaper notice confirmed that the marriage took place in St. John’s Episcopal Church next to Lafayette Square across from the White House.)

"So very difficult a matter is it to trace and find out the truth of anything by history." -- Plutarch
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10-01-2020, 05:50 AM
Post: #8
RE: Lincoln's Poetry
Thank you Gene for making this post as it is most interesting. What struck me at the first reading of what you shared with us what Lincoln’s “dark side” being expressed. That is too strong I’m sure. Many have written regarding his “depression.”

Bill Nash
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