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    Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)

  from 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.

    O Memory! thou midway world
        'Twixt earth and paradise,
    Where things decayed and loved ones lost
        In dreamy shadows rise,

    And, freed from all that's earthly vile,
        Seem hallowed, pure, and bright,
    Like scenes in some enchanted isle
        All bathed in liquid light.

    As dusky mountains please the eye
        When twilight chases day;
    As bugle-tones that, passing by,
        In distance die away;

    As leaving some grand waterfall,
        We, lingering, list its roar—
    So memory will hallow all
        We've known, but know no more.

    Near twenty years have passed away
        Since here I bid farewell
    To woods and fields, and scenes of play,
        And playmates loved so well.

    Where many were, but few remain
        Of old familiar things;
    But seeing them, to mind again
        The lost and absent brings.

    The friends I left that parting day,
        How changed, as time has sped!
    Young childhood grown, strong manhood gray,
        And half of all are dead.

    I hear the loved survivors tell
        How nought from death could save,
    Till every sound appears a knell,
        And every spot a grave.

    I range the fields with pensive tread,
        And pace the hollow rooms,
    And feel (companion of the dead)
        I'm living in the tombs.


Lincoln wrote the above poem after an 1844 visit to Perry County (now Spencer County) Indiana where he was raised, and it is the first of four Canto's he planned to write about the visit.

The above version of the first Canto was sent to Andrew Johnston of Springfield, Illinois on April 18th, 1846. An earlier version of the first two Cantos was sent to Johnston in February of 1846, and the first two Cantos were published anonymously by Johnston in the Quincy Whig on May 5, 1847. The final two Cantos have not been identified.

More information can be found in:

  • Lincoln, Abraham. The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Volume I. Roy P. Basler, Ed. New Brunswick, NJ: Ruters University Press, 1953.

    Lincoln was 16th President of the United States of America.