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As originally published in
The Atlantic Monthly

February 1909


Lincoln

by John Vance Cheney


Yon red orb, in fame's azure hung,
Is Alexander's; flushed and young,
The Sword of Macedon
In world-wars long agone.


Beyond it, poised where no clouds are,
Flashes, alone, the cold keen star
Of Caesar, where it clomb
High over seven-hilled Rome;


Shine next, as naked greatness can,
The rival lights of Charlemagne
And that fair Saxon king
Who knew no wicked thing.


Brave stars, against the darkness bold
Shine for the mighty men of old,
Who, as the strength was given,
Leapt into memory's heaven.


But he that never thought to climb,
Our crownless king, of later time,
Who walked the humble way,
Coming as comes the day;


He that, for kings and princes all,
Would once more read the mystic wall,--
Spell out, there, what was meant
Whereso the Finger went;


He that, over the anvil lowered,
Would beat the plowshare from the sword,
Lest peace from man depart,
Yea, hope out of his heart;--


Earth held to him. The rough-hewn form,
Looming through that unnatural storm,
Hinted the rude, mixed mould
Ere chaos loosed her hold;


A lone, wind-beaten hill-top tree,
His that pathetic majesty;
Forlorn even in his mirth,
His roots deep in the earth.


Earth's is he yet. When from the hill
The warm gold flows, and hollows fill,
The sunlight shines his fame,
The winds blaze Lincoln's name.


Ay, Earth's he is; not hers alone.
Blood of our blood, bone of our bone,
Love folded him to rest
Upon a people's breast.

Return to Flashback: President's Day


The Atlantic Monthly; February 1909; Lincoln; Volume 103, No. 2; pages 277 - 8.
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