Okay . . . simple exercise.

Make a list of words that come to mind when you think of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.

Ready? Go.

Mmm . . .

  • First in the hearts of his countrymen
  • President
  • General
  • Great Emancipator
  • Leader
  • Ford’s Theater
  • Wooden teeth

And now, one I would never have added:

  • Poetgeorge's poem

I was over at the PBS site and ran across a post that mentions the poetic abilities of George and Abe. Had no idea.

Lord Thomas Fairfax sent 17 year-old George Washington west of the Blue Ridge Mountains on a 1749 surveying trip. Apparently George sorely missed a certain young lady during his trip and spent some time penning love poems to Frances Alexander in his journal:

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.

Did ya notice the unfinished acrostic? Wonder if Martha ever got one.

Abe’s foray into poetry was a bit different.

In September 1858, Lincoln was in Winchester, Illinois in the middle of his Senate campaign against Stephen A. Douglas. A young girl named Rosa Haggard, the daughter of Lincoln’s innkeeper, asked him for an autograph. His response:

To Rosa–
You are young, and I am older;
You are hopeful, I am not–
Enjoy life, ere it grow colder–
Pluck the roses ere they rot.

Teach your beau to heed the lay–
That sunshine soon is lost in shade–
That now’s as good as any day–
To take thee, Rosa, ere she fade.

Go ahead, admit it. You’re looking at the two giants of American history a bit differently now, aren’t you?

They were poets and you didn’t even know it.