Lincoln's (and Hay's) poetry

Lincoln's suicide poem is getting a decent amount of press, starting with the question, is it really Lincoln's? Scholar Michael Burlingame says "yes" emphatically; he had already collected this one for a book of anonymous Lincoln poems (which may come out after 2009).

Burlingame's poetry collection will build up the Lincoln canon sizeably. Opinion currently credits the president with just a few pieces: My Childhood-Home I See Again, The Maniac, The Bear Hunt, America's Task, The Bulwark of Liberty, The Faith of Abraham Lincoln, I Am Not Bound To Win, and Let Us Have Faith That Right Has Might.

Both Lincoln and his secretary, John Hay, published anonymously and both published poetry. Hay was terribly prolific in this and where Lincoln represented facets of life and self, Hay's relentless interest in love verse and all its cliches creates tedium for even the best-intentioned reader.

Hay (A Dream of Bric-a-brac):

She was a girl of old Japan;
Her small hand held a glided fan,
Which scattered fragrance through the room;
Her cheek was rich with pallid bloom,
Her eye was dark with languid fire,
Her red lips breathed a vague desire;
Her teeth, of pearl inviolate,
Sweetly proclaimed her maiden state.

Hay: better technique. Lincoln: better subjects. Neither gave up his day job.