Feb 14, 2014

POETRY FRIDAY: Presidential Poetry

Thanks to Linda at Teacher Dance for hosting Poetry Friday today!

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Happy Valentine’s Day! I am spending today at home with my family, four days into our snow week/Presidents’ Day long weekend, which has turned into 6 ½ days of no school for my boys. Our area of South Carolina had 8-10 inches of snow this week, and my kids—and my husband and I—have had a blast! That path behind our house that had pitifully little snow a few weeks ago (that I wrote about here) now looks like this:

This morning we were out forging a sled track in our iced-over back yard, which is why my Poetry Friday post is a bit later than usual. But I came inside to share some poetry written by two of our country’s most illustrious presidents, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Until this week, I had NO idea that both of these presidents were poets. To celebrate both of their birthdays this month, here are two that I found interesting:

George Washington (1732-1799)
George Washington’s two surviving poems were written during his teenage years, in the late 1740s. The one I’ve chosen to share today is an uncompleted acrostic poem for Frances Alexander, an acquaintance of young Washington’s for whom he (obviously) harbored special feelings. It is especially suited for Valentine’s Day, don’t you think?

From your bright sparkling Eyes, I was undone;
Rays, you have, more transparent than the sun,
Amidst its glory in the rising Day,
None can you equal in your bright array;
Constant in your calm and unspotted Mind;
Equal to all, but will to none Prove kind,
So knowing, seldom one so Young, you'l Find
Ah! woe's me that I should Love and conceal,
Long have I wish'd, but never dare reveal,
Even though severely Loves Pains I feel;
Xerxes that great, was't free from Cupids Dart,
And all the greatest Heroes, felt the smart.

For more about Washington’s poetry, click here

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865 )
More of Lincoln’s poetry has survived, and he was even a member of a poetry society in the late 1830s. Around 1846, Lincoln wrote the following poem in a series of letters to his friend, Andrew Johnston of Quincy, Illinois. It is a poignant poem about the area where he was raised:

My Childhood Home I See Again

My childhood's home I see again, 
And sadden with the view;
And still, as memory crowds my brain,
There's pleasure in it too.

You can read the rest of this poem here.

In 1863, Lincoln wrote a very different kind of poem about the North’s victory at Gettysburg (notice the title):

Gen. Lees invasion of the North written by himself--

In eighteen sixty three, with pomp,
and mighty swell,
Me and Jeff's Confederacy, went
forth to sack Phil-del,
The Yankees they got arter us, and 
giv us particular hell,
And we skedaddled back again,
And didn't sack Phil-del.

For more information on poetry by Lincoln, please click here.

I hope you've enjoyed this bit of presidential poetry! Happy Valentine's Day, Happy Presidents' Day, and Happy Writing!


  1. Thank you for sharing these! I didn't know that Washington and Lincoln wrote poetry. I read these to my kids and they really enjoyed them. :)

  2. Oooh, lovely. We just had a bunch of ice ... not as much fun as snow, but still so nice to huddle up by the fire and read books. Thank you for sharing these president's poems. I never knew! Happy Valentines to all of you.

  3. What a perfect amalgam of presidential Love Poetry, Becky. Hang on tight until the thaw, over there in SC.

  4. Skedaddle seems like a very Linocolnian/Civil War word.

  5. I love how you're sharing presidential poems here, and I especially enjoyed Mr. Lincoln's. Happy V Day and Writing Day, Becky. Gosh, that wintry photograph at the beginning of your post looks hauntingly romantic!

  6. I love knowing more about Lincoln through your eyes in this great selection of verse. :) Thanks for sharing. Stay safe and warm!

  7. I'd seen Lincoln's poetry before, but didn't realize Washington wrote any. Very cool acrostic -- too bad he didn't finish it. :)

  8. The rest of the first Lincoln poem is incredible. Loved it. Part II was unexpected and powerful. Thanks for sharing!

  9. "all the greatest Heroes, felt the smart" -- no one is immune! Thanks for sharing these, Becky! (I posted a poem by Thomas Jefferson once. I'll bet most of the presidents have a poem squirreled away somewhere...)

  10. Huh. Who knew? Well, thanks to you, WE DO...now!

  11. Presidential Poetry --- a great idea.


  12. Very interesting! I'm glad you're enjoying all the snow!


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