The Death of Lincoln

By William Cullen Bryant 1794–1878
Oh, slow to smite and swift to spare,
Gentle and merciful and just!
Who, in the fear of God, didst bear
The sword of power, a nation’s trust!
 
In sorrow by thy bier we stand,
Amid the awe that hushes all,
And speak the anguish of a land
That shook with horror at thy fall.
 
Thy task is done; the bond are free:
We bear thee to an honored grave,
Whose proudest monument shall be
The broken fetters of the slave.
 
Pure was thy life; its bloody close
Hath placed thee with the sons of light,
Among the noble host of those
Who perished in the cause of Right.

Source: “Words for the Hour”: A New Anthology of American Civil War Poetry, edited by Faith Barrett and Cristanne Miller (University of Massachusetts Press, 2005)

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Poet William Cullen Bryant 1794–1878

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Subjects Social Commentaries, History & Politics, War & Conflict, Mythology & Folklore, Heroes & Patriotism

Poetic Terms Quatrain, Rhymed Stanza, Elegy

 William Cullen Bryant

Biography

No line of his poetry survives in the consciousness of his nation, and none of his editorial pronouncements still resonates from his five decades with the New-York Evening Post, yet William Cullen Bryant stood among the most celebrated figures in the frieze of nineteenth-century America. The fame he won as a poet while in his youth remained with him as he entered his eighties; only Longfellow and Emerson were his rivals in . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Social Commentaries, History & Politics, War & Conflict, Mythology & Folklore, Heroes & Patriotism

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Poetic Terms Quatrain, Rhymed Stanza, Elegy

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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