Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Nancy's Boy

On our way home from New Harmony, Cheryl and I stopped to pay tribute to young Abe Lincoln at the memorial to his boyhood home maintained as a National Historic Site.  The Lincolns moved from Kentucky to Indiana when Abe was seven.  It was here in Indiana that his mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln, died, here that his father brought his new stepmother home as a bride, here that he learned to read and write by the light of the fire on the kitchen hearth, here that he also buried his beloved older sister. 

Visitors can wander along a peaceful path to a working farm on the land where the Lincoln cabin stood.  Cows and sheep sleep peacefully under old trees.  Roosters scratch contentedly in the dirt.  You can also see Nancy Hanks's grave, marked with a newer, more impressive stone than the one the Lincolns would have placed there to honor her.

Seeing Nancy's grave made Cheryl and me remember this poem, which we read as children. It's hard not to have to blink back tears, reading it:

Nancy Hanks
If Nancy Hanks
Came back as a ghost,
Seeking news
Of what she loved most,
She'd ask first
"Where's my son?
What's happened to Abe?
What's he done?"
"Poor little Abe,
Left all alone.
Except for Tom,
Who's a rolling stone;
He was only nine,
The year I died.
I remember still
How hard he cried."
"Scraping along
In a little shack,
With hardly a shirt
To cover his back,
And a prairie wind
To blow him down,
Or pinching times
If he went to town."
"You wouldn't know
About my son?
Did he grow tall?
Did he have fun?
Did he learn to read?
Did he get to town?
Do you know his name?
Did he get on?"
- Rosemary and Stephen Vincent Benet

1 comment:

  1. That is wonderful. Thanks for remembering and posting it.