At The Lincoln Memorial

I think he would have hated this white shrine,
This pomp of marble gleaming in the sun,
He whom a cabin sheltered from the cold,
Who knew a cabin’s rest when day was done.
And men who dwelt in cabins were his friends,
In cabins and in little prairie towns,
He was of them and they of him, and each
So trusted other that when peril came
And threatened all their fathers’ toil had wrought
They gave to him the guiding of the State.
And though he walked with princes still he knew
He held his place securely in their hearts.
What can the marble’s splendor mean to him?
Strange how we litter all the earth with shrines,
Dark shadowed chapels where no sunlight falls,
For those who knew the sun, the touch of rain,
The hope of sowing and the joy of reaping,
And all the round of simple things in life—
The saints and seers and prophets of the race,
Who called to farther goals and led the way.
We carve from dull dead stone their travesties,
We cover them with incense and great praise—
In any way to keep them from our hearts;
In any way to keep from following after
On that stern path that leads at last to peace!
I think he would have hated this white shrine!

~William E. Brooks~

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