Item #5270 Lincoln Lies Sleeping. Nathan Upham.
Lincoln Lies Sleeping.

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Lincoln Lies Sleeping.

Providence, Rhode Island: Published by Theodore B. Stayner, 22 Wickenden St., [1865]. Song sheet, 21 x 12.5 cm, text surmounted by wood engraving within mourning border. CONDITION: Some losses to the margins, no losses to the text.

A song sheet mourning President Lincoln, set to Stephen Foster’s tune Under the Willow.

The “bewailing” nation is here characterized as crying for “Lincoln, the merciful, doomed to die.” The first chorus calls for the punishment of John Wilkes Booth and crowns Lincoln a “martyr”: “Strike, strike the traitor down! / Cry a sad people, while weeping; / Crown, crown the martyr crown— / Weep o’er the grave where he’s sleeping.” Despite Lincoln’s “murder so gory” the poem finds solace in the ideas of Lincoln lying “sleeping” and his waking up “in Heaven to-morrow.” The tone changes by the final chorus, with a call for unity in the newly peaceful nation and forgiveness of the assassination, such forgiveness being the “prayer of him who is sleeping.”

Nathan Upham seems to have been related to poet Louise S. Upham, who also wrote poems in response to Lincoln’s assassination. A handful of Upham’s lines here—particularly those concerning the lowering of the American flag—resemble lines from Louise’s contemporaneous hymn to Lincoln, The Nation is Weeping (1865).

REFERENCES: Wolf 1263c; Lincoln Lies Sleeping at the British Library online

Item #5270


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