POEM BY ABRAHAM LINCOLN. The following poem, written by Abraham Lincoln, many years ago, will be read now with deep interest: - OH! WHY SHOULD THE SPIRIT OF MORTAL BE PROUD? By Abraham Lincoln, of Illinois.

Oh, why should the spirit of mortal be proud?
Like a swift fleeting meteor – a fast flying cloud –
A flash of the lightning – a break of the wave –
He passeth from life to his rest in the grave.
The leaves of the oak and the willow shall fade,
Be scattered around, and together be laid;
As the young and the old, the low and the high,
Shall crumble to dust and together shall lie.
The infant a mother attended and loved –
The mother, that infant’s affection who proved:
The father that mother and infant who blessed -
Each, all are away to that dwelling of rest.
The maid on whose brow, on whose cheek, in whose eye,
Shone beauty and pleasure – her triumphs are by;
And alike from the minds of the living erased
Are the mem’ries of mortals who loved her and praised.
The band of the king that the sceptre hath borne,
The brow of the priest, that the mitre hath worn;
The eye of the sage, and the heart of the brave,
Are hidden and lost in the depths of the grave.
The peasant, whose lot was to sow and to reap;
The herdsman, who climbed with his goats up the steep;
The beggar, who wandered in search of his bread,
Have faded away like the grass that we tread.
So the multitude goes, like the flower or weed,
That withers away to let others succeed;
So the multitude comes, even those we behold,
To repeat every tale that has often been told.
For we are the same our fathers have been;
We see the same sights our fathers have seen,
We drink the same stream, we see the same sun,
And run the same course our fathers have run.
The thought we are thinking our fathers did think;
From the death we are shrinking our fathers did shrink;
To the life we are clinging our fathers did cling;
But it speeds from us all like the bird on the wing.
They loved – but the story we cannot unfold;
They scorned – but the heart of the haughty is cold;
They grieved – but no wail for their slumbers will come;
They joyed – but the tongue of their gladness is dumb.
They died – ah! they died – we things that are now,
That walk on the turf that lies over their brow,
And make in their dwelling a transient abode,
Meet the things that they met on their pilgrimage road.
Yea, hope and despondency, pleasure and pain,
Are mingled together in sunshine and rain;
And the smile and the tear, and the song and the dirge,
Still follow each other like surge upon surge.
‘Tis the wink of an eye; ‘tis the draught of a breath,
From the blossom of health to the paleness of death,
From the gilded saloon to the bier and the shroud;
Oh! why should the spirit of mortal be proud?

Title:Poem by Abraham Lincoln

Author:Abraham Lincoln

Publication:Ashton and Stalybridge Reporter

Published in:Ashton-under-Lyne

Date:May 13`th, 1865

Keywords:morality, religion


This poem written by Abraham Lincoln was published in the Ashton and Stalybridge Reporter less than a month after his assassination and serves as a tribute to the celebrated American president. It is particularly apposite because of its themes of mortality and equality, the latter expressed through the sentiment that mortal spirits should not be proud. There is a religiously justified egalitarianism which runs through the piece which would have chimed with liberal British political feeling, and as the editorial introduction suggests, the circumstances make this retrospectively poignant. – SR