A Poem by Nancy Byrd Turner: LINCOLN

Young Lincoln Statue at Lincoln Museum in Harrogate, Tennessee

Young Lincoln Statue at Lincoln Museum in Harrogate, Tennessee


by Nancy Byrd Turner

There was a boy of other days,
A quiet, awkward, earnest lad,
Who trudged long weary miles to get
A book on which his heart was set—
And then no candle had!

He was too poor to buy a lamp
But very wise in woodmen’s ways.
He gathered seasoned bough and stem,
And crisping leaf, and kindled them
Into a ruddy blaze.

Then as he lay full length and read,
The firelight flickered on his face,
And etched his shadow on the gloom,
And made a picture in the room,
In that most humble place.

The hard years came, the hard years went,
But, gentle, brave, and strong of will,
He met them all. And when today
We see his pictured face, we say,
"There’s light upon it still."
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8 Responses to “A Poem by Nancy Byrd Turner: LINCOLN”

  1. Laura says:

    I remember reciting this poem in the 3rd grade. I looked it up to see if I memorized it correctly. Lol at 60 years old it’s hard sometimes to remember what I did last week or on what day! It’s amazing that this poem stuck with me all those years.

  2. Cassandra Davis says:

    Eric Redenius: Will you consider posting a recital of Nancy Byrd Turner’s poem Lincoln? My second grader is having a tough time memorizing this poem. Believe it or not there are NO videos or audiobooks of this poem online. Thanks in advance if you do it.

  3. B. Nash says:

    Now that is a great find! Congratulations.

  4. Eleanor Davidson swift says:

    I found a copy.of the Lincoln poem in an early 20th century family trunk. Handwritten script with a quill pen, it also was a clear remembrance by an adult of a schoolroom exercise many years before. A few corrections were made before the fellow got it right!

  5. B. Nash says:

    That’s quite amazing-after all these years. Not ever sure I like using poetry memorization as punishment-but it beats writing “I will not chew gum in class” 500 times !

  6. Eric Redenius says:

    My 5th grade teacher Ms. Thompson made 3 of us memorize the Lincoln Poem by Nancy Byrd Turner for staying out for recess too long and at age 54 still can recite it word for word today.

  7. B. Nash says:

    Great background information on the statue Dave. Are there other Lincoln statues depicting Likncoln with a dog? Interesting that the Lincoln Memorial University and it’s museum would feature that particular statue.

  8. Dave Wiegers says:

    The statue at the top of this page is a plaster version of the famous “Hoosier Youth” statue of Abraham Lincoln by Paul Manship from 1932. The bronze is situated in downtown Fort Wayne, Indiana in front of the Lincoln Financial Insurance buidling. It is the first statue of Lincoln with a dog. In his right hand is a book and his axe leans against him. He is leaning against an oak stump. This Lincoln piece is considered one of the best and one of the first statues of Lincoln as a very young man in Indiana. Up to this point (1932) most statues of Lincoln showed Lincoln as the bearded president or the lawyer from Illinois.
    The Manship statue is the center piece of an early book on Lincoln statues by Franklin B. Mead entitled “Heroic Statues in Bronze of Abraham Lincoln”. The book was published by Lincoln Fiinancial and is no longer in print but can often be acquired on the internet.

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