Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: The Writer's Life (05/13/10)
TITLE: The Measure Of A Man
By Mariane Holbrook
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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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