Lincoln on a Marble Floor

Lincoln Memorial (1922) – Sculptor Daniel Chester French; Architect Henry Bacon

At the Lincoln Memorial

—By Archibald MacLeish

Within that door
A man sits or the image of a man
Staring at stillness on a marble floor.
No drum distracts him nor no trumpet can
Although he hears the trumpet and the drum.
He listens for the time to come.
Within this door
A man sits or the image of a man
Remembering the time before.
He hears beneath the river in its choking channel
A deeper river rushing on the stone,
Sits there in his doubt alone,
Discerns the Principle,
The guns begin,
Emancipates—but not the slaves,
The Union—not from servitude but shame:
Emancipates the Union from the monstrous name
Whose infamy dishonored
Even the great Founders in their graves …

He saves the Union and the dream goes on.

Written for ceremonies marking the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation and read by the poet at the memorial on September 22, 1962.

This entry was posted in Archibald MacLeish, architecture, commonplace book, Daniel Chester French, Henry Bacon, Lincoln Memorial, poetry, sculpture. Bookmark the permalink.

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