Sunday, February 19, 2006

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.


At 2/16/2006 6:35 PM, Blogger American Crusader said...

Wow..really well done. Has he read Pompeii by Harlan Coben? It's an excellent account of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.

At 2/16/2006 6:39 PM, Blogger American Crusader said...

Wrong author..Robert Harris

At 2/16/2006 6:47 PM, Blogger Dan Zaremba said...

Very moving poem.
Lots of talent.

At 2/16/2006 7:16 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Pompeii by Robert Harris is an excellent book! I listened to it on audio (Time concerns). I'll refer the book to RR. BTW, RR has read The Day Lincoln Was Shot, which I'm presently listening on audio.

It's wonderful when a student so loves history!

When the class recently read Dickens's Hard Times, RR pointed out how Gradgrind's forehead was corrugated; then RR drew an analogy between the man's forehead and brain as both were corrupted by the Industrial Aga, with its lockstep and money-grubbing thinking. An outstanding student, who has excellent insights about literature.

RR is really enjoying our present reading material--Ivanhoe. I knew that RR would love it!

Wow..really well done.

RR got an A++ for the efforts--a grade well earned. When RR read the poem to the class, all were silent as they considered how well this young student had completed the assignment.

Harlan Coben? I like his writing too.

At 2/16/2006 7:17 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Missing Link,

Glad that you liked the poem. On behalf of RR, thank you for the compliment.

I hope that you'll stop by here as often as you can.

At 2/16/2006 9:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


A very difficult form to work within, but you've captured the rhyme and meter wonderfully. And the selection of such a noble subject... A++. The disciple of writing sonnets will, I am sure, further help[ you develop your self-evident writing skills, so keep it up! I look forward to perhaps reading more of your work presented here in the future.

Age quod agis


At 2/16/2006 9:14 PM, Blogger WomanHonorThyself said...

Ahh..with malice toward none..wonder what happened to that ole sentiment ..sigh.

At 2/16/2006 9:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"discipline"... I think I need to start heeding my own advice...


At 2/17/2006 8:00 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

For such a young student, RR shows remarkable maturity in the discipline of writing in sonnet form.

Some students, most often the younger ones, did not choose a noble subject. Therefore, RR's sonnet was a jaw-dropper. As this student's last name comes late in the roster, the class and I listened to several sonnets of less depth before we got to this one. RR's sonnet is now a model, which can inspire others in the class.

At 2/17/2006 8:01 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Woman Honor Thyself,
Ahh..with malice toward none..wonder what happened to that ole sentiment...

Gone with the wind? (Sorry, I couldn't help myself!)

At 2/17/2006 3:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Washington van Dusen's sonnet for old Abe...

Abraham Lincoln

Born in a cabin in the forest wild,
With old Kentucky pioneers he found
A life to penury and hardship bound,
With little schooling for the ardent child;
But skies grew brighter when Romance beguiled,
And books gave dreams that charmed the bloody ground
Like roses in the clearings all around--
Then came the Law, and with it Fortune smiled.

Years brought on War, and like an angel sent
To save, the Great Emancipator came;
And daily watched its course as President,
Till Gettysburg rolled back the sea of flame;
And there he rose sublimely eloquent,
With those immortal words that crown his fame.


...and one for George by David Schulman...

Washington Crossing the Delaware

A hard, howling, tossing water scene.
Strong tide was washing hero clean.
"How cold!" Weather stings as in anger.
O Silent night shows war ace danger!
The cold waters swashing on in rage.
Redcoats warn slow his hint engage.
When star general's action wish'd "Go!"
He saw his ragged continentals row.
Ah, he stands - sailor crew went going.
And so this general watches rowing.
He hastens - winter again grows cold.
A wet crew gain Hessian stronghold.
George can't lose war with's hand in;
He's astern - so go alight, crew, and win!


Happy President's Day!


At 2/17/2006 6:15 PM, Blogger Dan Zaremba said...

I hope that you'll stop by here as often as you can.
I've been doing it for a while now.
Just changed my visiting alias so my Muslim fans don'r follow me here.
I think you've had already some healthy doze of trolling and you just too nice to over mine. ;-)

At 2/17/2006 6:43 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Missing Link,
Okay. Thanks!

At 2/17/2006 7:29 PM, Blogger jakejacobsen said...


At 2/18/2006 3:19 AM, Blogger beakerkin said...


I guess this is what happens when the students are spared Marx and Rigoberta. Reading the classics does have its advantages.

At 2/18/2006 9:42 AM, Blogger beakerkin said...


There is a motion on Mr Beamish's
site for Round Two of Mr Beamish improves Art. The new version is to replace the head of the Sphinx with the familiar Mr Beamish logo.

At 2/18/2006 10:07 AM, Blogger Timothy Birdnow said...

That was AMAZING for such a young student! I am consumed with jealousy; that kid blows anything I could do out of the water!

At 2/18/2006 11:51 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

I've just returned from Beamish's two latest masterpieces.


Having seen "Renoir Duck," I knew to set down my coffee cup before pulling up the images. Otherwise, my keyboard would have been trashed.

At 2/19/2006 8:21 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Missing Link,
I just visited another site, and I've confirmed what I thought about your identity.

At 2/19/2006 9:17 AM, Blogger Pastorius said...

RR captured Lincoln's inspiring soul perfectly.

His poem speaks to the time of the Civil War, and it speaks to us now, if we would listen.

One of the things many of Bush's critics on the right miss about him (I'm talking about the ones who think he is stupid and doesn't understand that Islam is not really a religion of peace) is that Bush uses words and ideas in the same way as Lincoln did.

That is, he uses them to inspire people to what they can become.

Lincoln's phrase about living with malice towards none was an aspiration that he had for himself and for the nation. It wasn't the truth. Lincoln was not a man without resentments. In fact, it was probably his deep resentment towards his father which caused him to free the slaves.

He also held animosity for Thomas Jefferson, a man whom he held in the highest regard in his speeches.

The point is, George Bush, like Abraham Lincoln believes that you use your sword to fight and your words to inspire.

Thank God for Abraham Lincoln and for George Bush.

At 2/19/2006 10:19 AM, Blogger Mike's America said...

It's important to remember Lincoln as we struggle today with issues that are fortunately not as grave as those he faced (yet).

The poem presents us with the soul of the man, something that is too often lost in the gloss of historical coverage.

At 2/19/2006 11:07 AM, Blogger Warren said...

AOW, we know of your commitment to teach our children. Students such as RR show the fruit of your labors.

I'm truly impressed with RR's synthesis of poetry history and emotion.

At 2/19/2006 3:34 PM, Blogger Esther said...

That was really beautiful. Let us know when RR has their first novel published. I'm there!

At 2/19/2006 5:59 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Part of my philosophy of education: A teacher never knows how much students are capable of until she challenges them. And challenge them I do!

In other words, "No assignment too large." Hehehe.

At 2/19/2006 9:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've always found R.R.'s work stunning, but this sonnet will forever remain my favorite of R.R.'s work.

P.S. No assignment too large ...Oy!

At 2/20/2006 12:48 AM, Blogger (((Thought Criminal))) said...

I was enjoined to write a sonnet
For a high school English class
And had I not thought upon it
The task might have kicked my ass
"Ten more lines to write!" you say
And all within this parameter:
Rhyme eight lines a-b-b-a-a-b-b-a
And in iambic pentameter
But what about the rest
Can it be done
With such nuance?
Well sure,
but not quite so
Lest I become a bad influence.

At 2/20/2006 7:31 AM, Blogger Σ. Alexander said...

8th grader? Fantastic!

I hope this student keep his or her interest in history. A combination of poetic sense and historical insight would make this student a Leonardo Da Vinci? If it happens, that's wonderful.

By the way, I have an idea. How about sending this poem to children in war-devastated countries, like Iraq and Afghanistan. Even without US troops, that's fine. To countries such as Sierra Leone, Angola, Sudan, ... too many.

Good idea, or not?

At 2/20/2006 7:34 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

E. Rice,
Here's the whole saying: "No assignment too large, no grade too small." I have that little saying on a coffee mug, a gift from a parent years ago. Maybe I should bring that mug to class, huh? Hehehe.

At 2/20/2006 7:35 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Such eloquence! LOL!

At 2/20/2006 7:41 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...


Yes, this poem is fantastic. It's an poem for a poet of any age to write. But an eighth grader? RR was truly inspired.

I have an idea. How about sending this poem to children in war-devastated countries, like Iraq and Afghanistan. Even without US troops, that's fine. To countries such as Sierra Leone, Angola, Sudan, ... too many.

Good idea, or not?


At 2/20/2006 7:42 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

How can we get Shah's idea implemented? Put on your thinking cap! Maybe some of our homeschool parents have an avenue for that worthy goal.

At 2/21/2006 1:14 AM, Blogger kevin said...

A political opponent once accuse Abe of being two-faced. Lincoln replied "if I were two-faced, would I be wearing this one?".

At 2/21/2006 7:31 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Old Abe had quite a sense of humor.

At 2/22/2006 4:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a former NEA Fellow in Lit\' (poetry) and soldier/patriot...I am speechless..Wow...

Does he need an agent?

At 2/22/2006 7:21 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Does he need an agent?

LOL. I'll check with RR.

This poem is definitely a "Wow!"

At 2/26/2006 8:00 PM, Blogger Libertarian Jason said...

Someone should read Thomas DiLorenzo's "The Real Lincoln"... That'd shed some light on the Lincoln Presidency....

At 1/07/2007 8:02 PM, Blogger benning said...

Thanks for emailing this link, AOW. Excellent work! True to Lincoln as we have come to know him, and a fine sonnet from a fine writer!

At 1/07/2007 8:06 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

R.R. is indeed a fine writer. And a history buff too.


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