We know that Lincoln loved Shakespeare and knew much of it by heart. But he also loved Robert Burns, the affirmer of honest poverty, from a very early age. Burns is wonderful aloud, which is the only way they would have read him then (so should we now). Good earthy language of love and liberty and the common man; his language is often vulgar, often very funny narrative, short quips being his virtue. Some of Lincoln's favorites were: Tam O'Shanter
and Epistle to a Young Friend
. Here is one of Burns' fine love poems, this to his wife:
I love my Jean
Of a' the airts the wind can blaw
I dearly like the west,
For there the bonie lassie lives,
The lassie I lo'e best.
There wild woods grow, and rivers row,
And monie a hill between,
But day and night my fancy's flight
Is ever wi' my Jean.
I see her in the dewy flowers -
I see her sweet and fair.
I hear her in the tuneful birds -
I hear her charm the air.
There's not a bonie flower that springs
By fountain, shaw, or green,
There's not a bonie bird that sings,
But minds me o' my Jean.