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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The Writer's Life (05/13/10)

TITLE: The Measure Of A Man
By Mariane Holbrook


With decomposing bodies wilting in the summer heat,
The foul stench was far too much to bear.
The dead were placed in piles on that bloody battlefield
Then buried in mass graves; no time to spare.

They numbered in the thousands, all the wounded and the dead;
At Gettysburg, a place that turned the tide.
To honor those who died at war, some nearby land was bought
To build a cemetery of great pride.

The ceremony speaker was a renowned orator.
Ed Everett was the best the crowd had heard.
Yet after it was over and the guests had all gone home,
Nobody could recall a single word.

The president was asked to give a short speech in response.
He stood erect and didn’t miss a word.
His speech was just two minutes, not two hours that Everett took.
Abe felt his speech was bad and most concurred.

The critics had a field day and they ripped his speech to shreds.
“The speech was flat as dishwater,” they said.
“How could a man so powerful shame everyone this way?
This speech deserves to be destroyed instead.”

“It’s awkward and it’s juvenile,” declared the media.
“The metaphors ridiculous at best.
The speech itself is way too short, insulting our brave men.”
The writing world was vastly unimpressed.

Yet history books are kinder and the Gettysburg Address
Is memorized by children everywhere.
“It’s right up there with Shakespeare and the Bible” people said.
“We’ve never read a speech that can compare.”

Historians have asked where Lincoln got his writing style.
His childhood home had few good books to read.
But Pilgrim’s Progress, Aesop’s fables and the Bible, too
Were all it took to make this man succeed.

His writing was laborious; he rewrote several times.
“A master of the metaphor” some said.
His speeches seemed like prose poems and were brilliantly conceived;
The finest writings many’d ever read.

He wrote a mystery story of a court case that he tried
While he still practiced law in Illinois.
His well-known sense of humor was reflected in his prose.
He wrote quotations that we still enjoy.

The weight of war, his troubled wife, his enemies all served
To fill this writer’s life with great torment.
His moral fiber stood the test and now this humble man
Has proved to be our greatest president.

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This article has been read 638 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Verna Cole Mitchell 05/20/10
Kudos for showing how this wonderful president's writing was influenced by the people and events in his life. The title is revealed to be true by the detail in this superb poem for the character of Abe Lincoln.
Helen Dowd05/20/10
"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."
Martin Luther King Jr.
Not being American, I know little of American history, but I do know that the measure of this greatest President stood the times of challente and controversy...What a wonderful tribute to President Lincoln...And as always, supberb poetry...It took a lot of mental exercise to create such a masterpiece. I hope it rates high in the judging. It should...God's blessings...Helen
Beth LaBuff 05/20/10
This is so beautiful in message as well as phrasing and words! I love the ballad feel of this! Excellent!
Charla Diehl 05/24/10
What a wonderful tribute to a great man of values and morals--a memorable president indeed.
Elizabeth Cain05/27/10
I really enjoyed this article. One of my favorite presidents is Abraham Lincoln, so this was a real treat for me. The style was superb. A very fun read!