Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight in Springfield Illinois by Vachel Lindsay

Vachel Lindsay Home, Springfield

Vachel Lindsay Home, Springfield

 

B. Nash at Vachel Lindsay house

B. Nash at Vachel Lindsay house

Vachel Lindsay marker

Vachel Lindsay marker

We were just walking around Springfield. I asked several people: “Do you know where the Vachel Lindsay house is?” We got various directions. I kind of “knew” where it was anyway. Unfortunately, it wasn’t exactly where I thought it was supposed to be. About the time I figured we weren’t going to find the place, I realized we were standing right next to it! “There it is!”
And to think I’m related to the great trailblazer Daniel Boone. Abraham Lincoln had spent some time in the house. It had once been owned by his sister-in-law and her husband. It was also Vachel Lindsay’s only home. He died in 1931. His poems about Lincoln are among my favorites.                                       
                                                                               Enjoy the following:
                                                Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight in Springfield Illinois
 
 
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 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.
 
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 peace
That he may sleep upon his hill again?
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3 Responses to “Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight in Springfield Illinois by Vachel Lindsay”

  1. Nate says:

    Read it again. In today’s world, I’m sure he is still walking at midnight.

  2. Geoffrey says:

    Thanks for posting the poem.

  3. Nate says:

    A haunting meaningful poem. I love it!

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