A Farmer Remembers Lincoln

By Witter Bynner 1881–1968 Witter Bynner
Well, I was in the old Second Maine,
The first regiment in Washington from the Pine Tree State.
Of course I didn’t get the butt of the clip;
We was there for guardin’ Washington—
We was all green.

“I ain’t never ben to the theayter in my life—
I didn’t know how to behave.
I ain’t never ben since.
I can see as plain as my hat the box where he sat in
When he was shot.
I can tell you, sir, there was a panic
When we found our President was in the shape he was in!
Never saw a soldier in the world but what liked him.

“Yes, sir. His looks was kind o’ hard to forget.
He was a spare man,
An old farmer.
Everything was all right, you know,
But he wasn’t a smooth-appearin’ man at all—
Not in no ways;
Thin-faced, long-necked,
And a swellin’ kind of a thick lip like.

“And he was a jolly old fellow—always cheerful;
He wasn’t so high but the boys could talk to him their own ways.
While I was servin’ at the Hospital
He’d come in and say, ‘You look nice in here,’
Praise us up, you know.
And he’d bend over and talk to the boys—
And he’d talk so good to ’em—so close—
That’s why I call him a farmer.
I don’t mean that everything about him wasn’t all right, you understand,
It’s just—well, I was a farmer—
And he was my neighbor, anybody’s neighbor.
I guess even you young folks would ‘a’ liked him.”

Source: Modern American Poetry (1919)

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Poet Witter Bynner 1881–1968

POET’S REGION U.S., Southwestern

Subjects Heroes & Patriotism, Social Commentaries

Poetic Terms Dramatic Monologue

 Witter  Bynner


Witter Bynner was born in Brooklyn, New York. He attended Harvard University, where he was invited by Wallace Stevens to join the Harvard Advocate. After college he edited McClure’s in New York for four years. His collections of poetry include An Ode to Harvard (1907), The Beloved Stranger (1919), Pins for Wings (1921), Indian Earth (1929), and New Poems (1960).  In 1916 Bynner and Arthur Davison Ficke co-authored Spectra: A . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Heroes & Patriotism, Social Commentaries

POET’S REGION U.S., Southwestern

Poetic Terms Dramatic Monologue

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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