I am a man who knew Abe Lincoln well;
We logged together on the Sangamon.
Abe was a thinker then, we noticed that;
Noticed the way he used to go apart
And watch the sunset flush the western sky
Until the river seemed a thing of flame.
Abe would sit there, a little off from us,
The soft wind blowing his unruly locks,
His face alight with deep, unspoken dreams.
It was as if he visioned the long way
His great, gaunt frame would one day have to go;
As if he heard the distant roar of war.
I have seen tears start in Abe Lincoln’s eyes
And run unheeded down his wind-bronzed cheeks
Even as long ago as those old days
When we were logging on the Sangamon.
After the day’s hard work we would sit there,
Lost in the wild, still beauty of the place;
(I can recall the smell of early spring
That settled on the river after dark);
Would sit and watch the stars come slowly out
And hear the water lap against our boat
And lose ourselves in quietness and sleep.
But Lincoln would sit on, deep in his thoughts,
One day we saw a slave sold on the bank:
That night Abe Lincoln’s heavy brows were knit
In troubled thought. That night
He did not close his brooding eyes,
But sat there thinking till the morning sun
Turned the pale sky into a flood of light.
Today, when I stood there at Gettysburg,
And saw that figure that I knew and loved
Take its quiet place—
How can I put in words
The thoughts that surged so swiftly through my heart?
This was the man I knew so well and long—
This man who spoke such simple, tender words—
Truths that would root and grow and bear much fruit!
Somehow, when he had finished, I ran forth
And caught his great hand close within my own:
“Abe!” I cried, huskily. “You know me, Abe?”
There, in the great crowd, he leaned on my arm.
Tears of delight were on his homely face.
“It is as if,” he told me, brokenly,
“The years of war and horror were wiped out
And we were on the Sangamon again.
My heart has hungered after you, my friend.”
That was Abe Lincoln, friend of all the world.
~Eleanor G. R. Young~
I am tired of city sounds,
And streets of questing faces—
Give me, for a swift, sweet hour,
Little lonely places!
Though I want the city ere
This golden silence passes,
I have loved and looked upon
Sky—and hills—and grasses.
I have walked with God again
In little lonely places …
I shall find His face again
In streets of questing faces!
I wonder will I speak to the girl
sitting opposite me on this train.
I wonder will my mouth open and say,
‘Are you going all the way
to Newcastle?’ or ‘Can I get you a coffee?’
Or will it simply go ‘aaaaah’
as if it had a mind of its own?
Half closing eggshell blue eyes,
she runs her hand through her hair
so that it clings to the carriage cloth,
then slowly frees itself.
She finds a brush and her long fair hair
flies back and forth like an African fly-whisk,
making me feel dizzy.
Suddenly, without warning,
she packs it all away in a rubber band
because I have forgotten to look out
the window for a moment.
A coffee is granted permission
to pass between her lips
and does so eagerly, without fuss.
A tunnel finds us looking out the window
into one another’s eyes. She leaves her seat,
but I know that she likes me
because the light saying ‘TOILET’
has come on, a sign that she is lifting
her skirt, taking down her pants
and peeing all over my face.
I am—yet what I am none cares or knows;
My friends forsake me like a memory lost:
I am the self-consumer of my woes—
They rise and vanish in oblivious host,
Like shadows in love’s frenzied stifled throes
And yet I am, and live—like vapours tossed
Into the nothingness of scorn and noise,
Into the living sea of waking dreams,
Where there is neither sense of life or joys,
But the vast shipwreck of my life’s esteems;
Even the dearest that I loved the best
Are strange—nay, rather, stranger than the rest.
I long for scenes where man hath never trod
A place where woman never smiled or wept
There to abide with my Creator, God,
And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept,
Untroubling and untroubled where I lie
The grass below—above the vaulted sky.
We shall have to repent in this generation, not so much for the evil deeds of the wicked people, but for the appalling silence of the good people. Dr. Martin Luther King Jnr.
The ultimate measure of man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. Dr. Martin Luther King Jnr.
Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will And he’s allowed me to go to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. Dr. Martin Luther King Jnr. On The Eve of His Assassination, April 3, 1968
Friends, comrades and fellow South Africans, I greet you all in the name of peace, democracy and freedom for all! Nelson Mandela, A Free Man, February 11, 1990
Let freedom reign. Nelson Mandela
We’ve got a budget deficit that’s important, we’ve got a trade deficit that’s critical, but what I worry about most is our empathy deficit. Barack Obama
The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate. Oprah Winfrey
God can dream a bigger dream for you than you can dream for yourself. Oprah Winfrey
Don’t just be an aging female, learn to be a real woman. Maya Angelou
People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. Maya Angelou
When you learn, teach. When you get, give. Maya Angelou
You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have. Maya Angelou
The holiest of all holidays are those
Kept by ourselves in silence and apart;
The secret anniversaries of the heart,
When the full river of feeling overflows;–
The happy days unclouded to their close;
The sudden joys that out of darkness start
As flames from ashes; swift desires that dart
Like swallows singing down each wind that blows!
White as the gleam of a receding sail,
White as a cloud that floats and fades in air,
White as the whitest lily on a stream,
These tender memories are;–a fairy tale
Of some enchanted land we know not where,
But lovely as a landscape in a dream.
~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow~
An old Scottish poem. I have translated it into English which of course loses the rhyming stanza…
Auld Daddy Darkness creeps frae his hole,
Black as a blackamoor, blin’ as a mole;
Stir the fire till it lowes, let the bairnie sit,
Auld Daddy Darkness is no’ wantit yet.
See him in the corners hidin’ frae the licht,
See him a the window gloomin’ a the nicht;
Turn up the gas licht, close the shutters a’
An’ Auld Daddy Darkness will flee far awa’.
Awa’ to hide the birdie within its cosy nest,
Awa’ to hap the wee flooers on their mither’s breast
Awa’ to loosen gaffer toil frae his daily ca’
For Auld Daddy Darkness is kindly to a’.
He comes when we’re weary to wean’s frae oor waes,
He comes when the bairnies are getting’ aff their claes,
To cover them sae cosy, an’ bring bonnie dreams,
So Auld Daddy Darkness is better than he seems.
Shut yer een, my wee tot, ye’ll see Daddy then;
He’s below the bed claes, to cuddle ye he’s fain.
Noo nestle in his bosie, sleep an’ dream yer fill,
Till wee Davie Daylight comes keekin’ owire the hill.
Old Daddy Darkness creeps from his hole,
Black as a dark skinned African, blind as a mole;
Stir the fire till it blazes, let the children sit,
Old Daddy Darkness is not wanted yet.
See him in the corners hiding from the light,
See him at the window frowning at the night;
Turn up the gas light, close all the shutters
And Old Daddy Darkness will flee far away.
Away to hide the bird within its cosy nest,
Away to cover the wee flowers on their mother’s breast
Away to free grandfather’s toil from his daily chores
For Old Daddy Darkness is kind to all.
He comes when we’re weary to free us from our sorrows,
He comes when the children are taking off their clothes,
To cover them cozy and bring them happy dreams,
So Old Daddy Darkness is better than he seems.
Shut your eyes, my little child, you’ll see Daddy then;
He’s below the bed sheets, to cuddle you lovingly.
Now nestle in his bosom, sleep and dream as much as you like,
Till wee Davie Daylight comes peeking over the hill.
Take this kiss upon the brow!
And, in parting from you now,
Thus much let me avow —
You are not wrong, who deem
That my days have been a dream;
Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.
I stand amid the roar
Of a surf-tormented shore,
And I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand —
How few! yet how they creep
Through my fingers to the deep,
While I weep — while I weep!
O God! Can I not grasp
Them with a tighter clasp?
O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?
~Edgar Allan Poe~
I’ve lived to bury my desires
and see my dreams corrode with rust
now all that’s left are fruitless fires
that burn my empty heart to dust.
Struck by the clouds of cruel fate
My crown of Summer bloom is sere
Alone and sad, I watch and wait
And wonder if the end is near.
As conquered by the last cold air
When Winter whistles in the wind
Alone upon a branch that’s bare
A trembling leaf is left behind.