From the Archive: Poet Carl Sandburg on Abraham Lincoln


Photo colorization by Sanna Dullaway / Original image from the Library of Congress

Essential listen today on the anniversary of Lincoln’s assassination: a speech by poet Carl Sandburg at the Freedom Centennial Conference in Bement, Illinois in 1955 (from Illinois Public Media.)

In the speech, he recites a poem from a “homely congressman from the Jayhawker state,” who, Sandburg says, “spoke that afternoon one the best poems ever spoken about Lincoln. The poets have done no better by Lincoln than this humble Kansas congressman, Homer Koch:”

There is no new thing to be said about Lincoln. There is no new thing to be said of the mountains or of the sea or of the stars. The years go their way, but the same old granite mountains lift their shoulders above the drifting clouds. The same mysterious sea beats upon the shore. The same silent stars keep holy vigil above a tired world. But to the mountains and sea and stars, men turn forever in unwearied homage. And thus with Lincoln. For he was a mountain in grandeur of soul; he was a sea in deep undervoice of mystic loneliness; he was a star in steadfast purity of purpose and service, and he abides.

The lecture is posted in four parts on Pop Up Archive. Listen to the first part below:

Get the rest of your Lincoln fix by checking out the Abraham Lincoln tag on Pop Up Archive.