At Lincoln’s Tomb

Springfield, Illinois, 2016

Be glad you cannot rise to life and stand
Outside that tomb to die again from shame
At Illinois, your home, your prairieland,
Transformed, yet quick to arrogate your name –

A land of ruined hope, no longer great,
Where silent foundries waste away to rust,
Cracked roads, deserted homes disintegrate,
And west winds scour the fallow land to dust;

A lawless land that drowns in reams of law,
And chokes with bloated tomes that regulate
Yet leave the regulators free to draw
Their bribes and rule their fiefs inviolate;

A land of servitude, not for one race,
But all who cannot flee the tax-man’s reach,
Bled out, sucked dry, to gorge the fattened face
Of rank officialdom’s rapacious leech –

It gulps its fill of pillage, vomits out
Largesse to all who have no blood to take,
Who gladly lap the dregs spewed from its snout,
Unseen chains stronger far than you could break.

Did you, Great Liberator, loose cruel war,
Give liberty and even life for this?
For this did you face Sumter’s cannons’ roar
And plunge the land in Death’s blood-tinged abyss?

Let it not be so! Let it not be so!
But you are dead and half a legend, too,
Whom lips pay shallow service – and I know
What is destroyed is never built anew.



In the sparkling, crystalline morning rays
That pierce the translucent, lingering haze,
Through the thick forest of bulrush blades
__A bird appears:

A stainless white heron fans out his wings,
Cranes his lithe neck and majestically springs,
Splashing the marsh-waters’ still mirrorings
__As he uprears.

Whence came this specter that ventures to rise
Gracefully, faultlessly, beauteously, flies
Up from swamps to the breadth of the skies
__Above the meres?

Take me, O spirit, with you! Let me soar
On your swift wings through the heavenly door!
Let me ascend, free, unbound, tied no more
__To wants and fears.



Would that I walked in those far-distant days
When angels lighted from empyrean spheres
And deigned to show themselves to mortal gaze
And speak the words of God to mortal ears.

But I must grope and claw my sightless way
Through winding miles of faceless, cold concrete
And jagged glass reflecting every way
To find a solid path to bear my feet.

I have but echoes, distant, dubious, faint,
Of those clear, crystalline angelic tongues,
Drowned in chaotic tides of babbling din.

And yet I hear them. They chide my complaint:
The deaf will never hear; the soul that longs
For truth has it, a prize for faith to win.


Adam Sedia (b. 1984) lives in his native Northwest Indiana, where he practices law as a civil and appellate litigator. His poems have appeared in Indiana Voice Journal and Tulip Tree Review. He has also had short stories and works of legal scholarship published in various journals. He also composes music, which may be heard on his YouTube channel.


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11 Responses

  1. Amy Foreman

    What a pleasure to become acquainted with both your poetry and your music, Adam! You handle both political and metaphysical themes with style and aplomb. Well done!

  2. Joe Tessitore

    Powerful work – “what is destroyed is never built anew” – and I believe that we share the same vision.

    What is your take on the future?

  3. Wilbur Dee Case

    Mr. Sedia’s apostrophe to Abraham Lincoln, a litany of things that wrack the state, is written much in the manner of Shelley’s “England, 1819,” but without that incendiary’s hopeful end. The alternate rhyming lines are Shakespearean in tone, and are remarkable for their diction, as, for example, in the excellent alliterative line, “Of rank officialdom’s rapacious leech…” or in th’ encapsulation of the modern cityscape, “silent foundries waste away to rust,/ Cracked roads, deserted homes disintegrate…” Mr. Sedia only breaks the iambic pentameters in his restated cri de coeur, “Let it not be so.”

    In tone and content, Mr. Sedia’s “Vision” is reminiscent of fellow-lawyer poet William Cullen Bryant’s “To a Waterfall,” while his untitled sonnet recalls Milton’s voice.

    • Wilbur Dee Case

      I mean, of course, “To a Waterfowl” by William Cullen Bryant. Here is the text of that original, American, Romantic poem, which Mr. Sedia’s poem “Vision” is a worthy compeer.

      “Whither, ‘midst falling dew,
      While glow the heavens with the last steps of day,
      Far, through their rosy depths, dost thou pursue
      Thy solitary way?

      Vainly the fowler’s eye
      Might mark thy distant flight, to do thee wrong,
      As, darkly seen against the crimson sky,
      Thy figure floats along.

      Seek’st thou the plashy brink
      Of weedy lake, or marge of river wide,
      Or where the rocking billows rise and sink
      On the chafed ocean side?

      There is a Power, whose care
      Teaches thy way along that pathless coast,—
      The desert and illimitable air
      Lone wandering, but not lost.

      All day thy wings have fanned,
      At that far height, the cold thin atmosphere;
      Yet stoop not, weary, to the welcome land,
      Though the dark night is near.

      And soon that toil shall end,
      Soon shalt thou find a summer home, and rest,
      And scream among thy fellows; reeds shall bend,
      Soon, o’er thy sheltered nest.

      Thou’rt gone, the abyss of heaven
      Hath swallowed up thy form, yet, on my heart
      Deeply hath sunk the lesson thou hast given,
      And shall not soon depart.

      He, who, from zone to zone,
      Guides through the boundless sky thy certain flight,
      In the long way that I must trace alone,
      Will lead my steps aright.”

  4. Waldi Berceuse

    Mr. Sedia’s second full piano sonata, composed in 2004, was revised 2016-2017. For him it is the darker twin of the first.

    Adam Sedia, Piano Sonata No. 2 in C Minor, Opus 4
    by Waldi Berceuse

    Immediately, Adam Sepia’s piano piece
    “Sonata Number 2, C Minor,” launches sans surcease;
    Beethovenesque, the powerful allegro, forges forth
    with all the force of a Romantic strumming, thrumming Thor.

    Although the largo slows the pace just momentarily,
    and moves on with Mozartian flair, if hardly airily,
    the graceful race continues on at one heck of a speed,
    exaggerated, animated, colourful indeed.

    Then finally, molto allegro, with alacrity,
    and expeditiously, with dizzying velocity,
    advances Rushin’-like from out th’ 20th century,
    headlong out to the edge of one unruly, raging Sea.

  5. Waldi Berceuse

    Apologies to Mr. Sedia:

    Adam Sedia, Piano Sonata Number 1 in G, Opus 3
    by Waldi Berceuse

    The andante con spirito of Adam Sedia
    in Piano Sonata Number 1 in G is a
    spectacular, melodimatic and echoic piece
    that runs about like crazy cops and comical police.

    The adgio più mosso is more slow, as it begins,
    but scintillating like fine sequences of bright sequins.
    One minute it’s Mozartian and the next it’s Joplinesque,
    the heartfelt colouring upheard almost bare arabesque.

    And then, th’ allegro molto scatters, like three seething mice
    below a party playing music chairs, and grinning thrice.
    Ah, last, the end, suspended in a genuine intrigue,
    displays a dizzying dismount, as wonderful as Grieg.


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