Lincoln’s letter to his son’s teacher

December 28, 2006 at 1:17 pm (Blogroll)

I found this master piece in my Dad’s book in which he used to write great pieces of poem/literature/ispirational stories since 1956.  This is one of the best.

He will have to learn, I know,
that all men are not just,
all men are not true.
But teach him also that
for every scoundrel there is a hero;
that for every selfish Politician,
there is a dedicated leader…
Teach him for every enemy there is a friend,

Steer him away from envy,
if you can,
teach him the secret of
quiet laughter.

Let him learn early that
the bullies are the easiest to lick…
Teach him, if you can,
the wonder of books…
But also give him quiet time
to ponder the eternal mystery of birds in the sky,
bees in the sun,
and the flowers on a green hillside.

In the school teach him
it is far honourable to fail
than to cheat…
Teach him to have faith
in his own ideas,
even if everyone tells him
they are wrong…
Teach him to be gentle
with gentle people,
and tough with the tough.

Try to give my son
the strength not to follow the crowd
when everyone is getting on the band wagon…
Teach him to listen to all men…
but teach him also to filter
all he hears on a screen of truth,
and take only the good
that comes through.

Teach him if you can,
how to laugh when he is sad…
Teach him there is no shame in tears,
Teach him to scoff at cynics
and to beware of too much sweetness…
Teach him to sell his brawn
and brain to the highest bidders
but never to put a price-tag
on his heart and soul.

Teach him to close his ears
to a howling mob
and to stand and fight
if he thinks he’s right.
Treat him gently,
but do not cuddle him,
because only the test
of fire makes fine steel.

Let him have the courage
to be impatient…
let him have the patience to be brave.
Teach him always
to have sublime faith in himself,
because then he will have
sublime faith in mankind.

This is a big order,
but see what you can do…
He is such a fine little fellow,
my son!

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91 Comments

  1. Muhammad raza said,

    I have read this master piece and really appreciate the Abraham Lincoln’s Guiding Principles for His Son. They are really marvelous…….Hope we can understand and follow

  2. Maya said,

    With a 2-year-old son and my extended family consisting of students ranging from 4th till 12th grade, I have been looking for poems/quotes/writings etc that are inspiring and give insights to me as a parent and a teacher. And I must say I love this piece, it absolutely deserves a frame and a wall, which will catch your eye every morning:)

    Here is one of my favorite poems on children –

    Happy reflecting,
    Maya:)

    Your children are not your children.

    They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.

    They come through you but not from you,

    And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.

    You may give them your love but not your thoughts.

    For they have their own thoughts.

    You may house their bodies but not their souls,

    For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit,
    not even in your dreams.

    You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.

    For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

    You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.

    The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you
    with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.

    Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;

    For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that
    is stable.

    – Khalil Gibran

    • mahum said,

      well said

    • Haris Ali said,

      Wow, beautiful !
      Especially:

      You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.

      The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you
      with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.

      Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;

      For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that
      is stable.

  3. بهمن صادقی said,

    it was great

  4. Teri Luka said,

    this i call an epistle of a great writer whose words always refreshes my thoughts and make me see dynamics of man’s essence to living.

  5. prashant pandya said,

    dis is a gud poem or master peice as said i d poem i liked it a lot thenk u massi for givin me dis adress of d site

  6. prashant pandya said,

    :-)

  7. rajesh said,

    inspiring

  8. KING said,

    this is great

  9. Eunice Oluebube Ibeh said,

    Really this is a very good writeup which is worthy of admiration,it teaches a lot & inspires to young people like us.

  10. Adeel Younus said,

    It is the Best Thing ever produced by a father to his son and Best Ever Demand to be made for the betterment of a son to his teacher. Yes it is a master piece.

  11. Tasleem Raza Bhatti said,

    I Like This Letter and Understand What a Great Person He Was Who Produced This Great Thinking. Wishes Him Good Luck.

  12. bhaskar said,

    IT IS ONE OF MY ALL TIME FAVOURITE SINCE I WAS IN MY CHILDHOOD .I WOULD BE GRATEFUL IF SUCH OTHER THINGS ARE SHARED AND SENT AT MY MAIL.

  13. l.fernandes said,

    I am a teacher/lecturer / and a mother of two grown up girls, when I read this poem to my students I get goose pimples, very touching, very emotional, very inspiring. I had once told a teacher who had brought a complaint to me about my daughter leaving the class (the teacher was my colleague and a good friend) without her permission for some drama practice in school. I told the teacher “I have given my daughter to the teachers for 6 hours” treat her like you treat all the students, punish her for the wrong things she does and praise for the good. Till my daughter graduate I never received any complaints and on her graduation the teacher thanked me for what I had told her. and said I wish all parents could be like you.

    I wish all parents read this poem. I have displayed it on our notice board in the colege

  14. shehnaya said,

    I loved it alot.

  15. tony said,

    i think the whole poem is a reflection of the life that i have chosen to lead. Every thing WORD for WORD reflect my true existence. Many thank to a great man. Now my children will learn from a great example of their father through this amazing teaching.

  16. Jude C Okwuibe said,

    It is a great inspiration to me…..

  17. farhang said,

    i saw the letter first framed on the wall, but by first reading i got such a deep inspiration. Later on, i found it in internet and translated it for my friends.

    by the way, it seems that a part of the text has been missed in
    your version as follows :

    ‘it will take time, i know;
    but teach him if you can,
    that a dollar earned is of far more value than five found.
    Teach him to lose,
    and also to enjoy winning.’

  18. kaleem said,

    i found in this poem a self motivated person speaks to follow the wordings of the real world with is teacher. A teacher is the one who gives the real guidelines to follow the life along with the parents. Thanks for everything, kaleem
    Teach him if you can,
    how to laugh when he is sad…
    Teach him there is no shame in tears,
    Teach him to scoff at cynics
    and to beware of too much sweetness…
    Teach him to sell his brawn
    and brain to the highest bidders
    but never to put a price-tag
    on his heart and soul.

  19. Seth said,

  20. sambhaji said,

    If ,the teacher from the pome ,succeied in his teaching according to the lincon ,s point of viwe……..
    then ,i can surely say …….
    “no evil can be found in the whole world”

  21. Derick N Fossem said,

    This is the most exerlerating piece i ever saw.I think that is a summary of what a father or a mother’s wish should be.Please do not hesitate sending me such soul searching pieces.

  22. manju said,

    iam very much impressed by seeing this letter……..

  23. Uche Okoronkwo Uche said,

    This is indeed the best wish, admonition, desire and prayerthat a loving human and indeed, a true parent could offer to a child. Abrahim Lincoln’s is a superlative masterpiece of all times. It motivates, counsels and satisfies the soul of its reader as sermon from the Holy Bible. May he rest in peace. Amen!

  24. Uche Okoronkwo Uche said,

    This is indeed the best wish, admonition, desire and prayer that a loving human and indeed, a true parent could offer to a child. Abrahim Lincoln’s is a superlative masterpiece of all times. It motivates, counsels and satisfies the soul of its reader as sermon from the Holy Bible. May he rest in peace. Amen!

  25. kuldeep said,

    It is a great inspiration to me…..

  26. AUSTIN BEN ODU said,

    Yeap, teach him to sell his brawl and brain to the highest bidders but NEVER TO PUT A PRICE TAG ON HIS HEART AND SOUL’.If u read this advisory and admonishonal article line by line,word by word and be able to digest it and most imperatively apply it in ur day to day endeavours,i bet u, the sky, wil be ur limit.infact there is what i call WIT and WISDOM in this piece.Lincoln is a legend God be with him

  27. AUSTIN BEN ODU said,

    Yeap, teach him to sell his brawl and brain to the highest bidders but NEVER TO PUT A PRICE TAG ON HIS HEART AND SOUL’.If u read this advisory and admonisional article line by line,word by word and be able to digest it and most imperatively apply it in ur day to day endeavours,i bet u, the sky, wil be ur limit.infact there is what i call WIT and WISDOM in this piece.Lincoln is a legend God be with him

  28. karu simon said,

    no wonder he still remain fresh in the politics of America. a century plus after his demise. what a leader and philosopher. i admire him a lot.
    i hope to be remembered like in my country.

  29. Nso said,

    Oh! How much I love this letter. It lays down all the steps needed to produce great men of the would .I have no doubt that great men with high IQ’s like the American President Barack Obama have dwelled so long on this words to be what they are today .

  30. Nso said,

    Oh! How much I love this letter. It lays down all the steps needed to produce great men of the would .I have no doubt that great men with high IQ’s like the American President Barack Obama and his likes have dwelled so long on this words to be what they are today .

  31. Gyanendra mocktan said,

    This is simply the master piece and immortal piece. I introduce my English class with this letter to the adult students in Nepal. They feel so inspired and their emotion is undercontroled and balanced. I make them read and read and try to change their sound and get into the real feeling.
    Thank you,
    gyanendra Mocktan

  32. DR.AFTAB AHMED JEHANGIR said,

    It is a bogus letter and attributed to Abraham Lincon. As and confirm from the sourse of the letter where it is placed.

  33. Ajakaiye Peter said,

    Great men always leave a mark on the soil of time.What a great letter to one’s son teacher.

  34. DR.AFTAB AHMED JEHANGIR said,

    this is a bugus letter that has been atributed to Abraham Lincon

  35. Njoetene Emmanuel said,

    inspiring indeed

  36. عنصرية ماياي سايروس :موراي يشير لضلوع أطباء آخرين في وفاة مايكل جاكسون:سرطان الدم said,

    [...] Lincoln’s letter to his son’s teacher – Soliloquies – Source [...]

  37. Adesida adekola said,

    This is no doubt a master pice. But one thing should be noted that about the source of this writing. In my investigation, i discover this pice is anonymus but taged to the great man abraham lincon inorder to gain easy and more popularity. The use of words in this inspirational pice are diffrent from the pharse used in the 1860s and diffrent from the way abraham lincon picks his words. For the this is an act known as academic tefth (playgiarisim in nuature) but no doubt it is a master pice. Which should be taged anonymus.

    • AFTAB Ahmed JEHANGIR said,

      yes I agree

  38. Vinod Bali said,

    It has been a classic piece I wish in today’s fast running world every father has time to pay attention for his kids and search such mentor in life to really see his kids grow up as LIncon wished.

  39. Lawrence Watsson said,

    This indeed is a master piece. The world really miss a legend.
    May parents pray to have such wisdom and love so as to pass to thier children. Lincoln, though you are gone……..your words lives forever.

    • DR. AFTAB AHMED JEHANGIR said,

      THIS IS A BOGUS LETTER.

      • kavita said,

        vats’ bogus in it…??????????

  40. DR. AFTAB AHMED JEHANGIR said,

    THIS LETTER IS BOGUS AND ATTRIBUTED TO THE AMERICAN PRESEDENT

    • khalid said,

      Instead of appreciating the content, u r forcing in to prove that its bogus. Do u have any proof that its bogus.

  41. christian james said,

    the basic for growth…

  42. donald ordu said,

    nice thougth…

  43. EJIOFOR FORTUNE said,

    I think this is one of the best letters i have ever read

  44. Aqsa Mirza said,

    I found this letter when I was a uni student and it always inspired me .After twelve years when im a mother,I searched for this letter and got it again with just one click.
    Lucky Me

  45. Kennedy Waithaka kimitio said,

    how i wish i had read this epistle,i guess my life could have been better

  46. Kennedy Waithaka kimiti said,

    how i wish i had read this epistle before,i guess my life could have been better

  47. kavita said,

    simply perfect…………

  48. John Edwin said,

    I need more insper ing words,if can empower me in education,i will be happy.thanks.

  49. Satya Sharma(Fiji) said,

    If only I had come across this while growing up.
    But its never too late.
    18th July 2010

  50. srishti said,

    liked this poem very much..!!
    recited in a competition n baged 1st price..!!
    yepeee..!!

  51. CK said,

    Its funny that we worry about the writer. It doesn’t matter who has written it. What matters is the the poem itself. The value of the poem should always be greater than the value of the poet. Only the one who has written that kind of poems (where poem is greater than poet) can be a great poet. I have had read this poem before visiting this blog.
    But I should thank you for Kahlil Gibran’s piece. Let our discussions have some value..

    Thanx again..

  52. B.K.Pathak said,

    It’s inspiring,refreshing and no doubt-a master-piece. Who wrote it,is not so material.If Pt. Nehru was capable of writing master-piece like “Discovery Of India” besides such inspiring&thought-provoking letters to his great daughter–Indiraji, why a thinker &great visionary like,Lincoln cannot write this classic piece?

  53. CK said,

    Still worried about author. Read the essay Death of Author by Roland Barthes..
    :-)

  54. Nihal Wella Arachchi said,

    I could not understand the full implication of this letter though I read it when I was a student.I am not worried about the authenticity of the writer but the content. If all fathers today want their sons’ teachers to teach their sons like this , how calm , quiet and peaceful this world would be? As a father of two sons I try my best

  55. mahum said,

    abraham lincon is man full of good advice :)

  56. Irene Azubuine said,

    I was in basic 5 when my teacher introduced mi to three basic write up’s of Abraham Lincon;Letter From Abraham lincon To His Sons Teacher, Education And I Was Born In Penury.we were forced to to memorise it of heart and i do hate it because i thought mi teacher was wicked to ask us to memorise such long write up’s of heart at that tender age.i later realised when i enrolled into high school that he has done more good than harm.it inspired mi and i do memorise it when am depressed and i always get a positive answer to mi problems because it challenges me.i have been thought by different teachers, lecturers but i cant forget Mr Orji that made such impact in my life.i wil always appreciate u for this and promise to do the much i can to practise what is in those write up’s.

  57. Prasanth payyanatt said,

    its really great ..the words coming from the hearts of a parent.
    really great.

  58. Prasanth payyanatt said,

    really great…teh words from the heart of parent

  59. syed asim javed said,

    the master piece, though alleged to be bogus, is realy a sentimental touch to the soul of mankind. it went but impressing me to share it with my fellows. surely, it is a message to all teachers of this age.

  60. Ugochukwu Maduagwu said,

    Lincoln thought me that In the school
    it is far honourable to fail
    than to cheat… but he never told me that the price of failure can be so much.

    • surjeet soundararaj said,

      yes,it is a wonderful way to express how to deal with challenges of life.
      the only way is to live the fullest of life and take it head on.

  61. vivian said,

    i like this write up.

  62. Safina said,

    I actually hv a question…no doubt da poem is an inspiration for upcoming teachrs lyk me…..hw come is dis lettr a poem? what techinques make it a poem..?i actually hv to answr it so can anyone help.?

  63. dips said,

    really appreciable thoughts

  64. dips said,

    a poem doesn’t only mean rhyming words,it is the expression of thoughts having even deeper meaning

  65. sondip mondal said,

    This is The definition of Education. It applies to students of all types of educational institutions. i read this to my students very often.

  66. Glesamae said,

    a very nice letter for a son !!!! I really appreciate it so much!!!

  67. Dr.Surekha Kuyyalil said,

    I am very much inspired and trying to make the best out of it in my teaching profession.

  68. omotola ayo said,

    it is a mind-blowing piece. it is also a drug worth to diagnose for everyone who aspire greatness

  69. yasho said,

    lovely latter an inspiration

  70. nicholas angel white said,

    is a nice one, i have learnt alot from it. Its realy nice of me having it

  71. Anadi Ndubisi said,

    this piece is a challeng not only to parents but also to youths who has the gut to strive harder. Anyone that abide by this precept is a winner.

  72. Jawaid Iqbal said,

    These are the golden words full of wisdom.everybody should read and practise them

  73. Jawaid Iqbal said,

    These are the golden words full of wisdom.everybody should read and practice them

  74. saleena said,

    good but didn’t understand

  75. shukhli said,

    bbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeessssssssssssssssssssstttttttttttttttttttttt!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  76. Charles Nama said,

    This piece is the most delightful thing of classical antiquity

  77. JOB ITORO said,

    WOW! THIS IS A GREAT MASTERPIECE DAT REALLY INSPIRES ME. THIS A MUST READ TO,EVERY PARENT, STUDENTS AND TEACHERS

  78. ogorry king said,

    if only dis letter can be read by all parents, teachers n pupil i think we’ll have a better world…

  79. Hasmukh Dhanani said,

    all the sentences are awesome, and also in all sentence each sentence says very big inspiration, a big thing which is not easy to teach and to accept easily.

  80. Jigar shah said,

    Awesome thinking revels in this

  81. Adole Adole 2 said,

    Adole Adole 2
    October 02, 2012 at 3.35pm
    Lincoln was simply mindblowing! few letters can read like this. I wish other countries can be blessed with a poet President like he was.

  82. qurban khan said,

    fantastic letter ever seen,life long message

  83. SURESH BRAR, Kalwas , Hisar (Haryana) said,

    A bad teacher complain, A Good Teacher explain….but a best Teacher …inspire….this is a natural inspiring poem…no doubt in a calling a master peace….cut peace..master peace .

  84. Ankita Bisht said,

    very inspiring letter n should b practise daily by us, then only we will have the positve change in the world.

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