"We have committed the Golden Rule to memory; let us now commit it to life.” – Edwin Markham
Markham’s story is one of those remarkable “American Dream” types. Born on April 23, 1852, to a family of 10 kids, he grew up in a broken home, worked the family farm as a child, and was mostly self-educated.
Against the wishes of his family, he decided to go to college and study literature, earning degrees in the Classics. He fell in love with poetry and began writing in his late 40s, writing many poems and essays for the ages. Among them were his famous “The Man With The Hoe,” inspired Edwin Vincent Millet’s equally famous painting; and "Lincoln, the Man of the People." Selected in 1922 to be read at the dedication of the Lincoln Memorial, it has often been called the greatest poem ever written about our 12th President.
An amazing letter writer and book collector, Markham amassed a personal library of over 15,000 books. He died in 1940 and bequeathed the books and his personal papers and letters, which included years of correspondence with Franklin D. Roosevelt, Ambrose Bierce, Carl Sandburg and Amy Lowell, to tiny Wagner College in New York City.
Poet Laureate in his native Oregon in the 1930s, he was the first recipient of the American Academy of Poets Award in 1937, and six schools and a World War II ship were named in his honor after his death. Near the end of his long life, he remarked, “Ah, great it is to believe the dream as we stand in youth by the starry stream; but a greater thing is to fight life through and say at the end, the dream is true!”
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