Home page Jews in the Civil War Jews in the Wild West History of Palestine The Occident Virtual Library Shopping Mall of Zion

בס"ד

April 27, Eighteen Sixty-Five

The flight, pursuit, and remorse of Lincoln's assassin are vividly portrayed by a teenage Emma Lazarus in this poem. She chose for her title the date of John Wilkes Booth's capture and death, in error giving it a day later than it actually occurred. This poem first appeared in 1867, in "Poems and Translations by Emma Lazarus, Written Between the Ages of Fourteen and Seventeen." Because of the ambiguous title, this piece has gone unnoticed by most Lincoln scholars.

"Oh, where can I lay my aching head?"
The weary-worn fugitive sadly said.
"I have wandered in all the sleepless night,
And I saw my pursuers distant light
As it glared o'er the river's waves of blue,
And flashed forth again in each drop of dew--
I've wandered all night in this deadly air,
Till, sick'ning, I drop with pain and despair."

Go forth! Thou shalt have here no rest again,
For thy brow is marked with the brand of Cain.

"I am weary and faint and ill," said he,
"And the stars look down so mercilessly!
Do you mock me with your glittering ray,
And seek, like the garish sun, to betray?
O, forbear, cruel stars, so bright and high;
Ye are happy and pure in God's own sky.
O, where can I lay me down to sleep,
To rest and to slumber, to pray and weep?"

Go forth! Thou shalt have here no rest again,
For thy brow is marked with the brand of Cain.

"To sleep! What is sleep now but haunting dreams?
Chased off, everytime by the flashing gleam
Of the light o'er the stream of yonder town,
Where all are searching and hunting me down!
O, the wearisome pain, the dread suspense,
And the horror each instant more intense!
I yearn for the rest from my pain and for sleep--
Bright stars, do ye mock, or quivering, weep?"

Go forth! Thou shalt have here no rest again,
For thy brow is marked with the brand of Cain.

On the marsh's grass, without pillow or bed,
Fell the rain and dew on his fated head;
While the will-o'-the-wisp with its changeful light,
Led him on o'er the swamp in the darksome night;
And all Nature's voices cried out again,
To the weary fugitive in his pain--

Go forth! Thou shalt have here no rest again,
For thy brow is marked with the brand of Cain.

The pursuers are near! O, bitter strife!
Youth, more strong than despair still clings to life.
More near and more near! They find him at last;
One desperate struggle, and all is past--
One desperate struggle, mid smoke and flame,
For life without joy, and darkness and shame.
A prayer ascends to high Heaven's gate
For his soul, O God, be it not too late!
A ball cleaves the air...He is lying there,
Pale, stiff and cold in the fresh morning air;
And the flames' hot breath is all stifled now,
And the breezes caress his marble brow.

All sorrow has gone with a life's fitful breath.
Rest at last! For thy brow bears the seal of death.