at the time of his assassination:
two pairs of spectacles, a lens polisher, a pocket knife, a watch fob, a linen handkerchief,
a brown leather wallet containing five dollars
in confederate money and nine newspaper clippings

that there is walt whitman's pen
it sat in his hand and drank ink and whitman lay upstairs
and watched the trains, fascinated by the big engines
me, i'm just anxious.

lincoln struck at the back of the head as if by a velvet curtain
his body lists and folds, creased at the hip, and rolls to the floor beside his seat

the light's gone out, but even now he's radiating heat
these relics rise like steam and each disseminates, encircling
like a halo down trajectory of a common crowd, simmering

slammed to the back of your head
you've never been hit before
how can you deal with that kind of information?
slammed to your chest
like a curtain hits the floor
how can you deal with that kind of information?


Lyrics submitted by 66exeter

The Contents Of Lincoln's Pockets song meanings
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  • 0
    General CommentFor some odd reason (don't ask why, I'm crazy), I think this song is about the why you feel when you get beat up unexpectidly. I mean, Lincoln never expected it coming for him, and for me(whose been in a situation like this) it felt like I was assasinated by someone I never thought would do it.
    EmokidAlexon April 13, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Commentyou are not going to belive whatI found out... This song is actually historically true go to loc.gov/exhibits/treasures/… and read about what they found in his pockets. I think it has to do with when we die or are beaten the things we leave behind tell people alot about who you were and how you lived your life. Also parts that are sung under these lyrics are "Make ammends, lets make ammends" "make a man, what makes a man" so it does point out EmokidAlex's point of getting caught unexpected or getting in a fight. Walt Whitman actually wrote a poem celebrating his birth (Lincoln). Hope this helps.
    stevestyleon November 09, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWalt Whitman wrote a lot about Lincoln. They were contemporaries, and Lincoln was in New York a lot. They were both photographed by Mathew Brady. When Lincoln was inaugurated, and when he was assassinated, Whitman wrote long pieces about both (I think for the NYT) because he was a journalist as well.

    As for what this song is about... What makes a man? Could you tell who he was, or what he did, by what he had in his pockets when he died? Why is it relevant that Whitman was fascinated by train engines? Pay attention to the radiating heat, haloes, etc. Oh, and curtains. And theatres. This song is a lot more meaningful if you know a bit about Lincoln and Whitman and the subtext that they represent as mythic signs (symbols that refer to texts outside the texts, ala Frye).
    dreamsofpavementon September 13, 2009   Link

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