U.S. Presidents as Poets


In celebration of Presidents Day in the U.S.

You can find more poems by U.S. Presidents at the Library of Congress at this link: http://www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/prespoetry/

Thomas Jefferson

“A death-bed Adieu. Th:J to MR.”


Life’s visions are vanished, it’s dreams are no more.

Dear friends of my bosom, why bathed in tears?

I go to my fathers; I welcome the shore,

which crowns all my hopes, or which buries my cares.

Then farewell my dear, my lov’d daughter, Adieu!

The last pang in life is in parting from you.

Two Seraphs await me, long shrouded in death;

I will bear them your love on my last parting breath.


James Madison

A poem against the Tories


Of late our muse keen satire drew

And humourous thoughts in vollies flew

Because we took our foes for men

Who might deserve a decent pen

A gross mistake with brutes we fight

And [goblins?] from the realms of night

Where Spring & Craig lay down their heads

Sometimes a goat steps on the pump

Which animates old Warford’s trunk

Sometimes a poisonous toad appears

Which Eckley’s yellows carcuss bears

And then to grace us with a bull

Forsooth they show McOrkles skull

And that the Ass may not escape

He take the poet Laureat’s shape

The screech owl too comes in the train

Which leap’d from Alexander’s brain

Just as he scratch’d his grisly head

Which people say is made of lead.

Come noble whigs, disdain these sons

Of screech owls, monkeys, & baboons

Keep up you[r] minds to humourous themes

And verdant meads & flowing streams

Untill this tribe of dunces find

The baseness of their grovelling mind

And skulk within their dens together

Where each ones stench will kill his brother


Abraham Lincoln



The following lines were said to have been found

near the bones of a man supposed to have committed

suicide, in a deep forest, on the Flat Branch of the

Sangamon, some time ago.


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 know;

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 out 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!


Barack Obama



Sitting in his seat, a seat broad and broken

In, sprinkled with ashes,

Pop switches channels, takes another

Shot of Seagrams, neat, and asks

What to do with me, a green young man

Who fails to consider the

Flim and flam of the world, since

Things have been easy for me;

I stare hard at his face, a stare

That deflects off his brow;

I’m sure he’s unaware of his

Dark, watery eyes, that

Glance in different directions,

And his slow, unwelcome twitches,

Fail to pass.

I listen, nod,

Listen, open, till I cling to his pale,

Beige T-shirt, yelling,

Yelling in his ears, that hang

With heavy lobes, but he’s still telling

His joke, so I ask why

He’s so unhappy, to which he replies…

But I don’t care anymore, cause

He took too damn long, and from

Under my seat, I pull out the

Mirror I’ve been saving; I’m laughing,

Laughing loud, the blood rushing from his face

To mine, as he grows small,

A spot in my brain, something

That may be squeezed out, like a

Watermelon seed between

Two fingers.

Pop takes another shot, neat,

Points out the same amber

Stain on his shorts that I’ve got on mine, and

Makes me smell his smell, coming

From me; he switches channels, recites an old poem

He wrote before his mother died,

Stands, shouts, and asks

For a hug, as I shink, my

Arms barely reaching around

His thick, oily neck, and his broad back; ‘cause

I see my face, framed within

Pop’s black-framed glasses

And know he’s laughing too.



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