“The Two Burials,” by Julia Perkins Pratt Ballard (from Robert Merry’s Museum, November 1867; pp. 147-148)
[In reading the Life of Abraham Lincoln, one is forcibly struck by the contrast in the burial of his mother—alone, in an unbroken forest, in a rude, homemade box, with no funeral service, and scarcely a witness outside of the family—and the unparalleled magnificence of the national funeral of her noble son a few years later.]
In the cool, unbroken shadow,
Where the fragile wild-flowers nod,
Dreamily above the sleeper
Laid beneath the forest sod,
Lonely in their grief they bore her,
With no sound of tolling bell;
Ah! the sob of crushed affection
Was the mother’s funeral-knell.
Never had that grand old forest
Echoed to the sexton’s spade;
First, within its sheltering bosom,
Was that noble mother laid.
Lonely sleeper! he whose footsteps
Wore a path to that lone mound—
Who with tears so oft bedewed it—
That same sleep too quickly found.
Borne along, in bitter anguish,
List the solemn-toiling bell;
Northern lakes to Southern waters
Echoed back his funeral-knell.
Tolling! in the quiet village,
Tolling! in the myriad throng,
Tolling! through the mountain gorges,
As his form was borne along;
Tolling for the sorrow welling
From a sudden, awful blow;
Tolling for the anguish swelling
From a nation’s bitter woe!
Lonely dust within the forest,
Sleeper, where above the sod
Millions raised the speaking marble,
Rest alike, beloved of God.