One Man Remembers Lincoln

I saw Lincoln this weekend. It was an extremely well done film, and there is no doubt in my mind that it will sweep (or come close) the Academy Awards. I will write more about the film in the coming days, but wanted to share this piece with you. Written by Witter Bynner in 1919. From the perspective of A man who had actually had the privilege of interacting with him.

A Farmer Remembers Lincoln
Witter Bynner

Lincoln?—
Well, I was in the old Second Maine,
The first regiment in Washington from the Pine Tree State.
Of course I didn’t get the butt of the clip;
We was there for guardin’ Washington—
We was all green.

“I ain’t never ben to the theayter in my life—
I didn’t know how to behave.
I ain’t never ben since.
I can see as plain as my hat the box where he sat in
When he was shot.
I can tell you, sir, there was a panic
When we found our President was in the shape he was in!
Never saw a soldier in the world but what liked him.

“Yes, sir. His looks was kind o’ hard to forget.
He was a spare man,
An old farmer.
Everything was all right, you know,
But he wasn’t a smooth-appearin’ man at all—
Not in no ways;
Thin-faced, long-necked,
And a swellin’ kind of a thick lip like.

“And he was a jolly old fellow—always cheerful;
He wasn’t so high but the boys could talk to him their own ways.
While I was servin’ at the Hospital
He’d come in and say, ‘You look nice in here,’
Praise us up, you know.
And he’d bend over and talk to the boys—
And he’d talk so good to ’em—so close—
That’s why I call him a farmer.
I don’t mean that everything about him wasn’t all right, you understand,
It’s just—well, I was a farmer—
And he was my neighbor, anybody’s neighbor.
I guess even you young folks would ‘a’ liked him.”

Game Called – Grantland Rice (1948)

One week has passed since the final out in the 2012 World Series.  Baseball depression has started to set in.  How long until pitchers and catchers report?  Too long.  Grantland Rice wrote Game Called in 1910.  It is one of my favorite poems.  In 1948, he re-wrote a version as a tribute to Babe Ruth.  This version is just as stirring.

 

Game Called by darkness — let the curtain fall.
No more remembered thunder sweeps the field.
No more the ancient echoes hear the call
To one who wore so well both sword and shield:
The Big Guy’s left us with the night to face
And there is no one who can take his place.

Game Called — and silence settles on the plain.
Where is the crash of ash against the sphere?
Where is the mighty music, the refrain
That once brought joy to every waiting ear?
The Big Guy’s left us lonely in the dark
Forever waiting for the flaming spark.

Game Called — what more is there for us to say?
How dull and drab the field looks to the eye
For one who ruled it in a golden day
Has waved his cap to bid us all good-bye.
The Big Guy’s gone — by land or sea or foam
May the Great Umpire call him “safe at home.” – Grantland Rice 1948