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The Suicide’s Soliloquy

February 13, 2017

The Suicide’s Soliloquy

Here, where the lonely hooting owl
Sends forth his midnight moans,
Fierce wolves shall o’er my carcase growl,
Or buzzards pick my bones.

No fellow-man shall learn my fate,
Or where my ashes lie;
Unless by beasts drawn round their bait,
Or by the ravens’ cry.

Yes! I’ve resolved the deed to do,
And this the place to do it:
This heart I’ll rush a dagger through,
Though I in hell should rue it!

Hell! What is hell to one like me
Who pleasures never knew;
By friends consigned to misery,
By hope deserted too?

To ease me of this power to think,
That through my bosom raves,
I’ll headlong leap from hell’s high brink,
And wallow in its waves.

Though devils yell, and burning chains
May waken long regret;
Their frightful screams, and piercing pains,
Will help me to forget.

Yes! I’m prepared, through endless night,
To take that fiery berth!
Think not with tales of hell to fright
Me, who am damn’d on earth!

Sweet steel! come forth from your sheath,
And glist’ning, speak your powers;
Rip up the organs of my breath,
And draw my blood in showers!

I strike! It quivers in that heart
Which drives me to this end;
I draw and kiss the bloody dart,
My last—my only friend!

–Abraham Lincoln, 1838

COMMENTARY: Today is Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, so I thought I’d post this lively, darkly humorous (or humorously dark) little poem that he wrote when he was 29 years old. First appearing in a small Illinois literary journal, it is among a handful of poems he published during his lifetime. Though the tone is swingy and energetic, it is worth noting that Lincoln did suffer from what today would probably be diagnosed as serious depression. In 1838, he was a lawyer in Springfield and in the midst of courting (the even more depressed) Mary Todd.

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