Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight

Vachel Lindsay

Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight

It is portentous, and a thing of state

That here at midnight, in our little town

A mourning figure walks, and will not rest,

Near the old court-house pacing up and down.

Or by his homestead, or in shadowed yards

He lingers where his children used to play,

Or through the market, on the well-worn stones

He stalks until the dawn-stars burn away.

A bronzed, lank man! His suit of ancient black,

A famous high top-hat and plain worn shawl

Make him the quaint great figure that men love,

The prairie-lawyer, master of us all.

He cannot sleep upon his hillside now.

He is among us:—as in times before!

And we who toss and lie awake for long

Breathe deep, and start, to see him pass the door.

His head is bowed. He thinks on men and kings.

Yea, when the sick world cries, how can he sleep?

Too many peasants fight, they know not why,

Too many homesteads in black terror weep.

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Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight (Cont'd)

The sins of all the war-lords burn his heart.

He sees the dreadnaughts scouring every main.

He carries on his shawl-wrapped shoulders now

The bitterness, the folly and the pain.

He cannot rest until a spirit-dawn

Shall come;—the shining hope of Europe free;

The league of sober folk, the Workers' Earth,

Bringing long peace to Cornland, Alp and Sea.

It breaks his heart that kings must murder still,

That all his hours of travail here for men

Seem yet in vain. And who will bring white peace

That he may sleep upon his hill again?


Lincoln Walks at Midnight" Poem animation

About the Author & Statue

For more information about Vachel Lindsay visit this link

For additional information about the statue made in honor of the poem visit this link


This poem is really cool because it has historical significance blended with poetry. One thing that kept coming to mind while reading this poem was Lincoln's ongoing battle with slavery and his eventual abolition of slavery. One line that was really neat was "The league of sober folk, the Workers' Earth." The workers being the slaves of the earth, and it almost creates a kind of feeling of entitlement for the slaves working the earth, as they are the ones doing all the hard physical labor. Therefore the slaves deserve the earth, or really just equality. Overall this poem was really interesting to read because of it"s controversial historical time period it was written about and the significance of the actions written about in the poem.
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