"Lincoln, The Man of the People" (excerpt)

by Edwin Markham (born 1852)

When the Norn Mother saw the Whirlwind Hour
Greatening and darkening as it hurried on,
She left the Heaven of Heroes and came down
To make a man to meet the mortal need.
She took the tried clay of the common road--
Clay warm yet with the genial heat of Earth,
Dasht through it all a strain of prophecy,
Tempered the heap with thrill of human tears,
Then mixt a laughter with the serious stuff.
Into the shape she breathed a flame to light
That tender, tragic, ever-changing face;
And laid on him a sense of the Mystic Powers,
Moving--all husht--behind the mortal veil....

Up from log cabin to the Capitol,
One fire was on his spirit, one resolve--
To send a keen ax to the root of wrong,
Clearing a free way for the feet of God,
The eyes of conscience testing every stroke,
To make his deed the measure of a man.
He built the rail-pile as he built the State,
Pouring his splendid strength through every blow:
The grip that swung the ax in Illinois
Was on the pen that set a people free.


Document URL: http://www.english.upenn.edu/~afilreis/88/markham-people.html
Last modified: Wednesday, 18-Jul-2007 16:27:26 EDT