The Hand of Lincoln: A poem by EDMUND CLARENCE STEDMAN

Hand of Lincoln by Volk

The Hand of Lincoln

 

Look on this cast, and know the hand

That bore a nation in its hold:

From this mute witness understand

What Lincoln was-how large of mould

 

The man who sped the woodman’s team,

And deepest sunk the ploughman’s share,

And pushed the laden raft astream,

Of fate before him unaware.

 

This was the hand that knew to swing

The axe-since thus would Freedom train

Her son-and make the forest ring,

And drove the wedge, and tolied amain.

 

Firm hand, that loftier office rook,

A conscious leader’s will obeyed,

And, when men sought his word and look,

With stedfast might the gathering swayed.

 

No courtier’s, toying with a sword,

Nor minstrel’s, laid across a lute;

A chief’s, uplifted to the Lord

When all the kings of earth were mute!

 

The hand of Anak, sinewed strong,

The fingers that on greatness clutch;

Yet, lo! the marks their lines along

Of one who strove and sufferred much.

 

For here in knotted cord and vein

I trace the varying chart of years;

I know the troubled heart, the strain,

The weight of Atlas-and the tears.

 

Again I see the patient brow

That palm erewhile was wont to press;

And now ’tis furrowed deep, and now

Made smooth with hope and tenderness.

 

For something of a formless grace

This moulded outline plays about;

A pitying flame beyond our trace,

Breathes like a spirit, in and out-

 

The love that cast an aureole

Round one who, longer to endure,

Called mirth to ease his ceaseless dole,

Yet kept his nobler purpose sure.

 

Lo, as I gaze, the statured man,

Built up from yon large hand, appears:

A type of Nature wills to plan

But once in all a people’s years.

 

What better than this voiceless cast

To tell of such a one as he,

Since through its living semblance passed

The thought that bade a race be free!

 

EDMUND CLARENCE STEDMAN

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One Response to “The Hand of Lincoln: A poem by EDMUND CLARENCE STEDMAN”

  1. Evelyn Respress says:

    Vachel Lindsay “Lincoln” is a good poem.
    Born where the ghosts of buffaloes still dream,
    Whose spirit hoof-beats storm above his grave,
    Above that breast of earth and prairie-fire —
    Fire that freed the slave

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