Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Lines on the Death of Col. Edward D. Baker

Willie Lincoln


While the Lincoln family continued to mourn the loss of family friend Edward D. Baker, ten-year-old Willie Lincoln put the finishing touches on a poem he had been working on. That’s right. Lincoln’s precocious son memorialized the fallen hero of Ball’s Bluff in a poem, which he shared with a local newspaper editor.

On this date in 1861, the National Republican in Washington printed the following letter and poem:


Dear Sir:

I enclose you my first attempt at poetry.

Yours truly,
William W. Lincoln


There was no patriot like Baker,
So noble and so true;
He fell as a soldier on the field,
His face to the sky of blue.

His voice is silent in the hall,
Which oft his presence grac’d.
No more he’ll hear the loud acclaim
Which rang from place to place.

No squeamish notions filled his breast,
The Union was his theme;
‘No surrender and no compromise,’
His day-thought and night’s dream.

His Country has her part to play,
To’rd those he has left behind;
His widow and his children all,
She must always keep in mind.


1 comment:

Edwin Vogt said...

It is my belief that William Lincoln wrote only the first four lines. Notice the simple, direct style typical of a ten year old with the emphasis on the end rhymes.But in the remaining three stanzas, we see expressed a more advanced style, suggesting someone of greater maturity and intelligence.A casual reading of the structuring of the poem as a whole, lends credence to the obvious differences.It is my belief that Willie's father, Abraham,assisted his son who may have been unable to add anything more to his affections for the fallen soldier. But what puzzles me is the publishing of it in the local paper. Which might lead one to believe that the sharing of the composition was added by the editor in his comments to it.