Sunday, March 03, 2013

Abraham Lincoln, Poet

Considering the pedigree of the Academy Award-winning film, Lincoln, how could there not be a huge resurgence of interest in the life of America’s 16th President? After all, nearly everyone loves themselves some Spielberg (Warhorse, Saving Private Ryan), the screenplay was written by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, Tony Kushner (Angels in America) based on a book (Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln) by Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, Doris Kearns Goodwin and starring Academy Award-winning actors Daniel Day-Lewis and Sally Field. Clearly, with all of that firepower, people were going to pay attention.

Though it’s not been a secret that Abraham Lincoln wrote poetry, it isn’t an aspect of his life or interests that’s ever been dwelled upon. In a life that was deeply interesting, inarguably important and definitely not long enough, when you’re looking at Lincoln, there’s a lot to look at without ever focusing on his love of words. Have we been missing out? Open Culture takes a closer look:
Was he a great poet? Well, it appears that he had at least three phases—the first, a youthful one in his teens and early twenties when he produced some silly juvenelia, “a number of crude and satirical verses.” The most popular of these is called “Chronicles of Reuben,” a local satire Lincoln scholar Robert Bray describes as “a series of pseudo-biblical prose and verse pieces that are, out of their local Indiana context, so topical as to be neither funny nor comprehensible.” The piece, written in 1828 to avenge himself upon a rival Indiana family, apparently had great effect on the neighbors, however. One of them, Joseph C. Richardson, claimed that the poem was “remembered here in Indiana in scraps better than the Bible.”
You can read the full piece here.



Post a Comment

<< Home