A Sonnet For Presidents' Day
This poet, R.R., is an eighth-grade homeschool student and an avid reader of both history and historical fiction. R.R. wrote this poem in response to an assignment requiring the class to write either an Italian or an English sonnet. Before presenting the sonnet to the class, R.R. provided the background information as given below in italics.
In this sonnet, Lincoln gives what I believe would be his posthumous address to the grieving Union. The first few lines mention the route Lincoln took when he traveled from Springfield, Illinois, to Washington D.C. for his first inauguration. There were rumors that an attempt on his life would be made be in Baltimore, Maryland, so he was quietly rushed to Washington in the middle of the night. When later that day his carriage rumbled down the cobblestone Pennsylvania Avenue, the newspapers ridiculed his escape as “the flight of Abraham.” After his assassination, his funeral procession traveled back along the same route to arrive in Springfield where his body would be buried. The last line of the sonnet is a direct quote from Lincoln’s second inaugural address.
Lincoln’s Address to a Grieving Nation
All was guard and tense determination
When first I traveled on this cobbled route.
Now though I pass the same direction,
Too soon sapped of life, my heart fades to doubt.
Oh America, where now shalt thou turn,
Now that I’m gone, succumbed to the grave?
Wilt forget the brand in my soul did burn?
Wilt forget broken union, burdened slave?
Let not blood spilt for freedom count for naught.
Absolve the burned and ruined South of guilt,
As they too died for soil painfully bought.
Embrace them. Once this bridge of peace is built,
Your unity and former ties recall:
“With malice toward none, with charity toward all.”
--Written and contributed by R.R.