The irony of four score and seven years ago

29 05 2017


I may be wrong, but I think Lincoln stated more than just giving context to the beginning of his speech dedicating the cemetery at Gettysburg Battlefield in 1863. Four score (a score is 20 years) and seven years ago from his perspective was 1776 – the year of the Declaration of Independence. Such irony! Lincoln wasn’t just pointing to the date of the beginning of the United States eighty-seven years previous, he was lobbing a bomb of an indictment into the heart of the gross injustice that had plagued the US since its inception.

It’s as if his opening six words declare: “We settled the question with truths that are self-evident, ‘that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.’ Why are we now laying to rest soldiers who died engaged in a war to win independence for people enslaved because of the color of their skin eighty-seven years later?”

Don’t believe me? Read the entire first sentence of his address: “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”

Today we are tempted to say, “Our forefathers were influenced by a wrong ethic that was socially accepted during that time period. We know better today. Slavery was finally settled by the adoption of the Thirteenth Amendment to the US Constitution: ‘Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.’”

Only the deluded would actually say that.

Today I remember those who died that others may be free. I also remember those who died never having experienced the unalienable right of freedom.


4 Score and 7 Years

  with apologies to Lincoln and Poe


“Two and three are four”

that’s what they told me

I’m not convinced anymore, no—

“Don’t open that door;

leave well-enough alone”

Four score and seven years of woe


Shadows on the floor

their substance missing

At my chamber door, oohhh—

Down the corridor,

faintly I hear the groan:

Four score and seven years of woe


If truth be told, snakes will fly

Eden’s souvenirs

Rhetoric can’t justify

Eighty-seven years


Above my door

the raven‘s chiding

“Quoth he, ‘Nevermore,’” low—

Feathers that he wore

scattered when he had flown

Four score and seven years of woe


© Cathy Howie





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