Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Presidential Poetics: "No woman ever played the whore / Unless She had a man to help her."*

source of my titular tease:

Whatever Spiteful fools may Say—

Each jealous, ranting yelper—

No woman ever played the whore

Unless She had a man to help her.


Thought I'd share this, as I never knew that President Lincoln wrote in verse.  I admit that not much would astound me.

"President Lincoln leads the Nordic Combined after soaring over the heads of the fans gathered at the bottom of the Normal Hill, for an estimated distance of 145 meters.  Having forgotten his cross-country skis at Knob Creek Farm in Kentucky, Lincoln himself fashioned a fine pair of Sochi birch, sharing a drink of warm black birch nectar with all comers.."

Anyway... once again I sing the praises of the Academy of American Poets and their Poem-A-Day program. It would not occur to me to search for The Poems of Abraham Lincoln while wandering the aisles at Amazon.

Only three poems can be attributed to Lincoln with certainty, and all are in the public domain.  I like the remark, though, that reviewer fredtownward threw down:

OK, I have to admit, this one has me a bit stumped. Who WOULD appreciate a gift edition of the only complete narrative poem (though sometimes treated as 2 or 3 separate poems as it is here, the author considered it a single poem in three cantos with differing subjects) attributed to Abraham Lincoln with absolute certainty? (There are several short scraps of verse scattered throughout his writings and one anonymous poem, "The Suicide's Soliloquy," that has been attributed to him by some scholars.)

Well, poetry lovers are a good possibility, as are teachers of poetry, and they might also appreciate the uniform edition of John Quincy Adams' poem The Wants of Man. Abraham Lincoln had a lifelong interest in both reading and writing poetry, and as these verses prove, he was no slouch at it. Another are would-be poets who could use a little encouragement to keep at it: if Abraham Lincoln could keep at it,... Admirers, students, and teachers of Lincoln and his times are good possibilities, too, and they might also appreciate the uniform edition of The Emancipation Proclamation.

Note: One could complain that this book is available online for free. Well, yes, what part of in the public domain do you not understand? However, trying to get away with giving someone a printout as a gift will earn you the nickname of cheapskate.... 

Someone had the nerve to pretend the praise of "home-spun" in describing Lincoln's work.  I have a knee-jerk issue with that phrase that I will have to get over, for spinning from his home, like some knob-kneed spindly spider wending his web, mending his land... is perhaps what best describes the words Lincoln wrought, fraught with more care -- and cares -- than I can imagine.

Okay, Lincoln gets to me.

Here's the poem the Academy dropped in my email box today, perfect for the frozen tundra that quiets Marlinspike Hall today.  We are somber, we admit it.  The Castafiore feels the weather in her bones, and chose to cuddle with our Maine Coon, Buddy, an ever ready and egalitarian cuddler, over the opportunity to nuzzle her darling Sven Feingold.  "Mein Prof," she whispered, "I don't want to brush my teeth or fight the laces forsaken by God on that damned red satin bustier... Please find some Maze Emergency that Sven and only Sven might tend to?  A bevy of frigid beavers to rescue, something!"

Sometimes Bianca confuses our fledgling marshlands with the centuries-old English Boxwood Maze, star attraction of bright summertime's ManorFest.  I spared Sven a pointless romp in the icy mess and gifted the Milanese Nightingale with an ordinary headache, instead.  He borrowed Dobby on his way back to the Domestic Quarters, claiming that his adult son, Cabana Boy, was a bit blue -- Dobby's purview. 

Since that left me and Fred with but one feline, and as Marmy Fluffy Butt is bent on practicing her hauteur, we decided to treat our own sobriety of spirit with poetry.

My Childhood Home I See Again
by Abraham Lincoln

My childhood home I see again, 
And sadden with the view; 
And still, as memory crowds my brain, 
There's pleasure in it too. 

O Memory! thou midway world 
'Twixt earth and paradise, 
Where things decayed and loved ones lost 
In dreamy shadows rise, 

And, freed from all that's earthly vile, 
Seem hallowed, pure, and bright, 
Like scenes in some enchanted isle 
All bathed in liquid light. 

As dusky mountains please the eye 
When twilight chases day; 
As bugle-notes that, passing by, 
In distance die away; 

As leaving some grand waterfall, 
We, lingering, list its roar-- 
So memory will hallow all 
We've known, but know no more. 

Near twenty years have passed away 
Since here I bid farewell 
To woods and fields, and scenes of play, 
And playmates loved so well. 

Where many were, but few remain 
Of old familiar things; 
But seeing them, to mind again 
The lost and absent brings. 

The friends I left that parting day, 
How changed, as time has sped! 
Young childhood grown, strong manhood gray, 
And half of all are dead. 

I hear the loved survivors tell 
How nought from death could save, 
Till every sound appears a knell, 
And every spot a grave. 

I range the fields with pensive tread, 
And pace the hollow rooms, 
And feel (companion of the dead) 
I'm living in the tombs.

from blog January Magazine

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