Nancy Hanks

Nancy Hanks (Abraham Lincoln's mother) is the second song from Elie Siegmeister's song cycle American legends: six songs for voice and piano and sets Rosemary Benét's poetry to music.

Date: 1947Composer: Elie SiegmeisterText: Rosemary BenétSong Collection: American legends: six songs for voice and piano

Print vitals & song text


“Nancy Hanks”

by Rosemary Benét


If Nancy Hanks 

Came back as a ghost, 

Seeking news 

Of what she loved most, 

She’d ask first 

“Where’s my son? 

What’s happened to Abe? 

What’s he done?” 

“Poor little Abe, 

Left all alone 

Except for Tom, 

Who’s a rolling stone; 

He was only nine 

The year I died. 

I remember still 

How hard he cried.” 

“Scraping along 

In a little shack, 

With hardly a shirt 

To cover his back, 

And a prairie wind 

To blow him down, 

Or pinching times 

If he went to town.” 

“You wouldn’t know 

About my son? 

Did he grow tall? 

Did he have fun? 

Did he learn to read? 

Did he get to town?

Do you know his name? 

Did he get on?”

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