For Mr. Lincoln

1
When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom’d,
And the great star early droop’d in the western sky in the night,
I mourn’d, and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring.

Ever-returning spring, trinity sure to me you bring,
Lilac blooming perennial and drooping star in the west,
And thought of him I love.

2
O powerful western fallen star!
O shades of night—O moody, tearful night!
O great star disappear’d—O the black murk that hides the star!
O cruel hands that hold me powerless—O helpless soul of me!
O harsh surrounding cloud that will not free my soul.

“When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d” by Walt Whitman

5 comments… add one
  • Thanks for this, Kevin.

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  • My favorite poem by Whitman.prO

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  • Bob Johannsen always read excerpts in class, a habit I have followed over the years.

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  • A sad favorite. I remember hearing a TV commentator reciting the poem on November 22, 1963.

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  • One of the greatest elegies ever written. Whitman’s genius took the tragic particularity of Lincoln’s death as a means to reflect on the universal reality of death and how the living cope. I believe the poet addressed the five stages of grief in this poem years before those in the behavioral sciences described them. That he did it with such powerful images and with such deep feeling is not only a moving tribute to Lincoln, but a timeless gift to us all. I never tire of reading this poem and thank you for hi-lighting it on your website.

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