Monday, June 02, 2008

GL's favourite poem...

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,
Man 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;
And the young and the old, and the low and the high
Shall molder to dust and together shall lie.

... The hand 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 depth of the grave.

The saint who enjoyed the communion of heaven;
The sinner who dared to remain unforgiven;
The wise and the foolish, the guilty and just,
Have quietly mingled their bones in the dust.

So the multitude goes, like the flowers or the 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.

... Yea! hope and despondency, pleasure and pain,
We mingle together in sunshine and rain;
And the smiles and the tears, 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?

When a growing-up GL needed a hero to dote upon, GL chose Abraham Lincoln and borrowed Lincoln-based books from the tiny(and very smelly) government library housed in a medical college, a walking distance from GL's home. This poem became GL's fav since it was Abe Lincoln's fav too.

"I would give all I am worth, and go into debt, to be able to write so fine a piece as I think that is. Neither do I know who is the author. I met it in a straggling form in a newspaper last summer, and I remember to have seen it once before, about fifteen years ago, and this is all I know about it." Abraham Lincoln wrote those lines in a letter to a friend, Andrew Johnston (a lawyer in Quincy, Illinois), on April 18, 1846.

The authorship of this poem has been made known since this publication in the Evening Post. It was written by William Knox, a young Scotchman, a contemporary of Sir Walter Scott. He died in Edinburgh, in 1825, at the age of 36.

Lincoln memorized the entire poem and recited it so often that some folks mistakenly thought he was the author.

No comments: