Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, ONE OF OUR PRESIDENTS, by WENDELL PHILLIPS STAFFORD

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ONE OF OUR PRESIDENTS, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: He sits there on the low, rude, backless bench
Last Line: "I thought, ""thank god, thank god the ship rides true!"
Subject(s): Lincoln, Abraham (1809-1865); Presidents, United States; Statues

He sits there on the low, rude, backless bench,
With his tall hat beside him, and one arm
Flung, thus, across his knee. The other hand
Rests, flat, palm downward, by him on the seat.
So AEsop may have sat; so Lincoln did.
For all the sadness in the sunken eyes,
For all the kingship in the uncrowned brow,
The great form leans so friendly, father-like,
It is a call to children. I have watched
Eight at a time swarming upon him there,
All clinging to him -- riding upon his knees,
Cuddling between his arms, clasping his neck,
Perched on his shoulders, even on his head;
And one small, play-stained hand I saw reached up
And laid most softly on the kind bronze lips
As if it claimed them. These were the children
Of foreigners we call them, but not so
They call themselves; for when we asked of one,
A restless dark-eyed girl, who this man was,
She answered straight, "One of our Presidents."
"Let all the winds of hell blow in our sails,"
I thought, "thank God, thank God the ship rides true!"

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