Tag Archives: Poetry

From The Ghost of Abraham Lincoln

Are you pleased with your performance:

the eloquence of gunshot,

the genius of shooting a man from behind?

Well done you,

a five-star review

for the talented

John Wilkes Booth.

But the villain’s part is too easy:

that stage-coach swagger,

the slicked-back hair,

the sneer, the sniff,

that twisted, mustachioed grin.

I was an actor too,

far more versatile than you.

I was a farmer, a scholar,

a soldier, a lawyer,

son to a long-dead mother,

husband to a soon dead wife,

father to a dying child.

Behold, here is Lincoln,

a man of ambition,

a true politician.

But I’ll admit,

no part quite fit.

The costumes hung limp

or stretched too tight

around the shoulders,

badly woven, threadbare,

a button missing here and there.

But I did my best.

I never let my audience down

and I survived just long enough

to make a change,

before the bullet struck

and the spectre came,

when the sky opened

and the angels called my name.

But there was no peace for Lincoln.

I had another role to play:

hero and martyr,

poor dead father,

a necessary sacrifice

for a new-born nation.

   *      *      *      *    

There is a man sits frozen on a chair,

white marble giant with such wisdom

as he never knew in life.

The gravity of his authority holds me tight.

There is no escape.

And soon others come,

wanting to stare

into those unseeing eyes,

looking for an answer,

calling for an encore.

Yet the statue cannot speak.

And my voice cannot be heard.

(This poem is one of a collection entitled ‘Thirty Angry Ghosts’ which features poems in the voice of Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, Queen Victoria, and many other famous historical figures.

‘Thirty Angry Ghosts’ is available at a range of bookshops and is free on Kindle Unlimited). Click here for the Amazon link.

If you would like permission to use this, or any of the poems, with students or other interested parties, please email suffolkwritersgroup@gmail.com.

Inspiration for your own angry ghost poem

This summer I’m running a competition for people to write their own angry ghost poem. Click here for details.

Below are some examples of people I think would make a good angry ghost. You can use any of these or think of your own historical figure.

Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein, Portrait, Theoretician Physician

Angry that people blame scientists for the atomic bomb.

Emily Pankhurst

Angry that so many modern women choose not to vote.

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Oliver Cromwell

Oliver Cromwell. (1599-1658) on engraving from the 1800s. English military and political leader best known for his involvement in making England into a stock photography

Angry about the way people celebrate Christmas.

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Top Tips

  1. Read a range of poetry to inspire you
  2. Research your chosen person (I recommend starting with Wikipedia and YouTube)
  3. Imagine yourself as that person.
  4. Think about why they are angry.
  5. Think about who they might be angry at and direct your poem at them
  6. Write a first draft
  7. Edit and polish

Good Luck

If you’re still feeling stuck, here are some other characters you could write about

Robin Hood

Angry that most of Sherwood Forest has been cut down

Shaka Zulu

Angry that people don’t love their mothers enough

Jane Austen

Angry that she never got properly paid for her novels

Vincent Van Gogh

Angry that people only appreciated his art after he died

Lady Jane Grey

Angry that she was only queen for nine days