Posted by: Patrick Allen Foster | April 14, 2015

Poem for the Day, April 14

Gardner-Photo-Lincoln

Herman Melville, “The Martyr” (1865):

Good Friday was the day
Of the prodigy and crime,
When they killed him in his pity,
When they killed him in his prime
Of clemency and calm-
When with yearning he was filled
To redeem the evil-willed,
And, though conqueror, be kind;
But they killed him in his kindness,
In their madness and their blindness,
And they killed him from behind.

There is sobbing of the strong,
And a pall upon the land;
But the People in their weeping
Bare the iron hand;
Beware the People weeping
When they bare the iron hand.

He lieth in his blood-
The father in his face;
They have killed him, the Forgiver-
The Avenger takes his place,
The Avenger wisely stern,
Who in righteousness shall do
What the heavens call him to,
And the parricides remand;
For they killed him in his kindness,
In their madness and their blindness,
And his blood is on their hand.

There is sobbing of the strong,
And a pall upon the land;
But the People in their weeping
Bare the iron hand;
Beware the People weeping
When they bare the iron hand.

Image Credit: the “Broken Glass Portrait,” taken on February 5, 1865 by Alexander Gardner. One of the last photographs of Lincoln taken during his life. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

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