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Vachel Lindsay - General William Booth Enters into Heaven

[To be sung to the tune of The Blood of the Lamb with indicated instrument] 


[Bass drum beaten loudly.]

Booth led boldly with his big bass drum --
(Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?)
The Saints smiled gravely and they said: "He's come."
(Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?)
Walking lepers followed, rank on rank,
Lurching bravoes from the ditches dank,
Drabs from the alleyways and drug fiends pale --
Minds still passion-ridden, soul-powers frail: --
Vermin-eaten saints with mouldy breath,
Unwashed legions with the ways of Death --
(Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?)


Every slum had sent its half-a-score
The round world over. (Booth had groaned for more.)
Every banner that the wide world flies
Bloomed with glory and transcendent dyes.
Big-voiced lasses made their banjos bang,
Tranced, fanatical they shrieked and sang: --
"Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?"
Hallelujah! It was queer to see
Bull-necked convicts with that land make free.
Loons with trumpets blowed a blare, blare, blare
On, on upward thro' the golden air!
(Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?)


[Bass drum slower and softer.]

Booth died blind and still by Faith he trod,
Eyes still dazzled by the ways of God.
Booth led boldly, and he looked the chief
Eagle countenance in sharp relief,
Beard a-flying, air of high command
Unabated in that holy land.

[Sweet flute music.]

Jesus came from out the court-house door,
Stretched his hands above the passing poor.
Booth saw not, but led his queer ones there
Round and round the mighty court-house square.
Then in an instant all that blear review
Marched on spotless, clad in raiment new.
The lame were straightened, withered limbs uncurled
And blind eyes opened on a new, sweet world.

[Bass drum louder.]

Drabs and vixens in a flash made whole!
Gone was the weasel-head, the snout, the jowl!
Sages and sibyls now, and athletes clean,
Rulers of empires, and of forests green!

[Grand chorus of all instruments. Tambourines to the foreground.]

The hosts were sandalled, and their wings were fire!
(Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?)
But their noise played havoc with the angel-choir.
(Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?)
O shout Salvation! It was good to see
Kings and Princes by the Lamb set free.
The banjos rattled and the tambourines
Jing-jing-jingled in the hands of Queens.

[Reverently sung, no instruments.]

And when Booth halted by the curb for prayer
He saw his Master thro' the flag-filled air.
Christ came gently with a robe and crown
For Booth the soldier, while the throng knelt down.
He saw King Jesus. They were face to face,
And he knelt a-weeping in that holy place.
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb? 

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Added: Jun 10 2005 | Viewed: 4892 times | Comments and analysis of General William Booth Enters into Heaven by Vachel Lindsay Comments (5)

General William Booth Enters into Heaven - Comments and Information

Poet: Vachel Lindsay
Poem: General William Booth Enters into Heaven
Poem of the Day: Apr 27 2009

Comment 5 of 5, added on August 11th, 2012 at 9:06 PM.

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Ytalo from Uzbekistan
Comment 4 of 5, added on February 20th, 2011 at 2:19 AM.

Charles Ives saw, read, and composed music to the poem. To understand, listen to the music of a great american composer who understood.

CG Burille from United States
Comment 3 of 5, added on June 15th, 2009 at 9:13 PM.

There seems to be a connection between this poem and Luke 14: 16-24. (At least I think so) The first and second stanzas seem to give a vivid description of 'the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame' (LK 14: 21), and the description of Booth as the Master's servant who goes out and calls them in. The life of William Booth, as recalled in this imaginitive poem of his death, still calls us to ever-greater faithfulness in following Jesus.

Ian Dow from Australia

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