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Biography of Vachel Lindsay

Vachel Lindsay

Vachel Lindsay (1879 - 1931)

Vachel Lindsay -- poet, idealist, troubador -- is sometimes called Springfield's "second most famous" son. He was born in Springfield in 1879 and always considered the Capitol City his home.

Like any youngster growing up in Central Illinois, Lindsay was schooled in the virtues of Abraham Lincoln, Springfield's most famous resident. He, like Lincoln, was fascinated by the common people, and much of his poetry reflected that fascination.

Young Lindsay, whose full name was Nicholas Vachel Lindsay, attended Hiram College in Hiram, Ohio, for three years before studying art in Chicago and New York City. He later turned to poetry, a medium which was more successful for him.

He first received recognition in 1913, when "Poetry" magazine published his poem "General William Booth Enters into Heaven" about the founder of The Salvation Army. Racial harmony was a concern of Lindsay's. "The Congo," a poem about blacks, was one of his most famous and popular poems.

Lindsay spent much of his life walking across the country, performing and distributing copies of his poetry in exchange for bed and board. Lindsay's poems were very rhythmic, and he performed them almost melodramatically -- chanting, shouting, gesturing, and even singing rather than merely reciting.

Lindsay married Elizabeth Connor in 1925 when he was 45 and she was 23. They had two children, Susan in 1926 and Nicholas in 1927. They settled in Vachel's family home in Springfield in 1929.

The poet's career declined during the 1920s. He began to believe that people were only impressed with his powerful performances, not the poetry itself.

Lindsay became severely depressed as both his creativity and his popularity waned; he committed suicide in 1931 by drinking poison.

Lindsay's verse is characterized by its lyric quality and its simple, forceful rhythms. Among his volumes of poetry are The Congo and Other Poems (1914) and Every Soul Is a Circus (1929)



168 Poems written by Vachel Lindsay

The poems are by default sorted according to volume, but you can also choose to sort them alphabetically or by page views.

Volume | Alphabetically | Page Views | Comments | [First Lines]


First LineComments
(A Negro Sermon.) Comments and analysis of How Samson Bore Away the Gates of Gaza by Vachel Lindsay 2 Comments
(A Poem Game.) Comments and analysis of The Potatoes' Dance by Vachel Lindsay 2 Comments
(A Poem Game.)
(Being a Chant of the American Soap-Box and the Russian Revolution.)
(IN THE BEGINNING) Comments and analysis of An Indian Summer Day on the Prarie by Vachel Lindsay 7 Comments
(Matthew V, 38-48.)
(Note: — Pocahontas is buried at Gravesend, England.) Comments and analysis of Our Mother Pocahontas by Vachel Lindsay 10 Comments
(The poem shows the Master, with his work done, singing to free his heart in Heaven.)
(To a Man who maintained that the Mausoleum is the Stateliest Possible Manner of Interment)
(To Eudora, after I had had certain dire adventures.) Comments and analysis of The Flower of Mending by Vachel Lindsay 1 Comment
(What Grandpa told the Children) Comments and analysis of Yet Gentle Will the Griffin Be by Vachel Lindsay 1 Comment
(What the Mendicant Said )
(Written with the hope that the socialists might yet dethrone Kaiser and Czar.) Comments and analysis of Here's to the Mice! by Vachel Lindsay 2 Comments
(To Edgar Lee Masters, with great respect)
In Springfield, Illinois Comments and analysis of Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight by Vachel Lindsay 126 Comments
What the Carpenter Said
A BROADSIDE DISTRIBUTED IN SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS Comments and analysis of The Soul of the City Receives the Gift of the Holy Spirit by Vachel Lindsay 8 Comments
A chant for a children's pantomime dance, suggested by a picture painted by George Mather Richards. Comments and analysis of The Mysterious Cat by Vachel Lindsay 11 Comments
A chant to which it is intended a group of children shall dance and improvise pantomime led by their dancing-teacher.
A curse upon each king who leads his state, Comments and analysis of A Curse for Kings by Vachel Lindsay 6 Comments
A Fantasy, dedicated to the little poet Alice Oliver Henderson, ten years old.
A little colt — broncho, loaned to the farm Comments and analysis of The Broncho That Would Not Be Broken by Vachel Lindsay 5 Comments
A POEM DEDICATED TO ALL CRUSADERS AGAINST THE INTERNATIONAL AND INTERSTATE TRAFFIC IN YOUNG GIRLS
A Recitation for Martha Wakefield, Three Years Old Comments and analysis of The Little Turtle by Vachel Lindsay 4 Comments
A Song in Chinese Tapestries Comments and analysis of The Chinese Nightingale by Vachel Lindsay 1 Comment
AFTER HAVING READ A GREAT DEAL OF GOOD CURRENT POETRY IN THE MAGAZINES AND NEWSPAPERS Comments and analysis of In Praise of Songs that Die by Vachel Lindsay 1 Comment
Ah, in the night, all music haunts me here. . . .
Ah, she was music in herself,
AN ARGUMENT FOR THE MAINTENANCE OF PEACE AND GOODWILL WITH THE JAPANESE PEOPLE
An endless line of splendor, Comments and analysis of Foreign Missions in Battle Array by Vachel Lindsay 11 Comments
And must the Senator from Illinois Comments and analysis of To the United States Senate by Vachel Lindsay 1 Comment
Are these your presences, my clan from Heaven?
Awake again in Asia, Lord of Peace,
Climbing the heights of Berkeley Comments and analysis of The City That Will Not Repent by Vachel Lindsay 2 Comments
DEDICATED TO LUCY BATES
Down, down beneath the daisy beds,
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
EVEN the shrewd and bitter,
Even the shrewd and bitter,
FACTORY windows are always broken. Comments and analysis of Factory Windows are Always Broken by Vachel Lindsay 4 Comments
FOR A VERY LITTLE GIRL, NOT A YEAR OLD.
GIRL with the burning golden eyes,
He coveted her portrait. Comments and analysis of The Moon is a Painter by Vachel Lindsay 1 Comment
He paid a Swede twelve bits an hour
HUNGRY for music with a desperate hunger
Hungry for music with a desperate hunger
I Comments and analysis of The Perfect Marriage by Vachel Lindsay 5 Comments
I
I
I Comments and analysis of In Memory of a Child by Vachel Lindsay 1 Comment
I am unjust, but I can strive for justice.
I asked her, "Is Aladdin's lamp
I asked the old Negro, "What is that bird that sings so well?" He answered: "That is the Rachel-Jane." "Hasn't it another name, lark, or thrush, or the like?" "No. Jus' Rachel-Jane."
I know a seraph who has golden eyes, Comments and analysis of Alone in the Wind, on the Prairie by Vachel Lindsay 41 Comments
I LOOK on the specious electrical light Comments and analysis of A Rhyme About an Electrical Advertising Sign by Vachel Lindsay 44 Comments
I opened the ink-well and smoke filled the room. Comments and analysis of The Bankrupt Peace-Maker by Vachel Lindsay 1 Comment
I saw Lord Buddha towering by my gate Comments and analysis of With a Bouquet of Twelve Roses by Vachel Lindsay 1 Comment
I saw wild domes and bowers
I was but a half-grown boy, Comments and analysis of Genesis by Vachel Lindsay 2 Comments
I went down into the desert
I. A NEGRO SERMON:—SIMON LEGREE
I. EDWIN BOOTH
I. GOD SEND THE REGICIDE
I. SPEAK NOW FOR PEACE
I. THE DOLL UPON THE TOPMOST BOUGH
I. THE LION Comments and analysis of Popcorn, Glass Balls, and Cranberries by Vachel Lindsay 11 Comments
I. THE VOICE OF THE MAN IMPATIENT WITH VISIONS AND UTOPIAS Comments and analysis of An Argument by Vachel Lindsay 1 Comment
I. THEIR BASIC SAVAGERY Comments and analysis of The Congo: A Study of the Negro Race by Vachel Lindsay 22 Comments
In this, the City of my Discontent, Comments and analysis of Springfield Magical by Vachel Lindsay 1 Comment
Kiss me and comfort my heart Comments and analysis of The Beggar's Valentine by Vachel Lindsay 1 Comment
Last night at black midnight I woke with a cry,
Let not our town be large, remembering
Let not young souls be smothered out before Comments and analysis of The Leaden-Eyed by Vachel Lindsay 69 Comments
Life's a jail where men have common lot. Comments and analysis of The Gamblers by Vachel Lindsay 37 Comments
Look you, I'll go pray,
MOVING-PICTURE ACTRESS
MOVING-PICTURE ACTRESS Comments and analysis of To Mary Pickford by Vachel Lindsay 1 Comment
My lady in her white silk shawl
No doubt to-morrow I will hide Comments and analysis of At Mass by Vachel Lindsay 2 Comments
NO man should stand before the moon Comments and analysis of A Sense of Humor by Vachel Lindsay 11 Comments
O DANDELION, rich and haughty, Comments and analysis of The Dandelion by Vachel Lindsay 3 Comments
O great heart of God,
O you who lose the art of hope,
OH, once I walked a garden
Oh, once I walked a garden Comments and analysis of On The Garden Wall by Vachel Lindsay 3 Comments
Oh, once I walked in Heaven, all alone
OLD Euclid drew a circle Comments and analysis of Euclid by Vachel Lindsay 1 Comment
On the road to nowhere Comments and analysis of On the Road to Nowhere by Vachel Lindsay 13 Comments
Once I loved a fairy,
Once I loved a spider
Romance was always young.
SECTION ONE Comments and analysis of The Firemen's Ball by Vachel Lindsay 9 Comments
She was taught desire in the street, Comments and analysis of The Trap by Vachel Lindsay 1 Comment
Sleep softly ... eagle forgotten ... under the stone. Comments and analysis of The Eagle That is Forgotten by Vachel Lindsay 16 Comments
Sometimes I dip my pen and find the bottle full of fire,
Sometimes we remember kisses, Comments and analysis of By the Spring, at Sunset by Vachel Lindsay 1 Comment
St. Francis, Buddha, Tolstoi, and St. John —
Star of my heart, I follow from afar. Comments and analysis of Star of My Heart by Vachel Lindsay 1 Comment
Sweetheart Spring
The cornfields rise above mankind,
The Drunkards in the street are calling one another,
THE flower-fed buffaloes of the spring Comments and analysis of The Flower-Fed Buffaloes by Vachel Lindsay 109 Comments
The Lion is a kingly beast.
THE moon is now an opening flower, Comments and analysis of The Rose of Midnight by Vachel Lindsay 2 Comments
THE moon's a steaming chalice, Comments and analysis of What Semiramis Said by Vachel Lindsay 6 Comments
The moon's a brass-hooped water-keg,
The moon's a gong, hung in the wild,
The moon's a little prairie-dog.
The moon's an open furnace door Comments and analysis of What the Coal-Heaver Said by Vachel Lindsay 3 Comments
The Moon's the North Wind's cooky. Comments and analysis of The Moon's the North Wind's Cooky by Vachel Lindsay 2 Comments
THE North Star whispers: "You are one Comments and analysis of The North Star Whispers to the Blacksmith's Son by Vachel Lindsay 5 Comments
The old man had his box and wheel
The whole world on a raft! A King is here,
The wide Pacific waters Comments and analysis of The Wedding of the Rose and the Lotos by Vachel Lindsay 2 Comments
There dwelt a widow learned and devout,
They say one king is mad. Perhaps. Who knows? Comments and analysis of Who Knows? by Vachel Lindsay 1 Comment
Think not that incense-smoke has had its day. Comments and analysis of Incense by Vachel Lindsay 1 Comment
This is the sin against the Holy Ghost: — Comments and analysis of The Unpardonable Sin by Vachel Lindsay 34 Comments
This is the song Comments and analysis of The Spice-Tree by Vachel Lindsay 2 Comments
This poem is intended as a description of a sort of Blashfield mural painting on the sky. To be sung to the tune of Yankee Doodle, yet in a slower, more orotund fashion. It is presumably an exercise for an entertainment on the evening of Washington's Birthday. Comments and analysis of Yankee Doodle by Vachel Lindsay 9 Comments
THIS section is a Christmas tree: Comments and analysis of This Section is a Christmas Tree by Vachel Lindsay 1 Comment
Thou wilt not sentence to eternal life Comments and analysis of The Alchemist's Petition by Vachel Lindsay 9 Comments
Though better men may fear that trumpet's warning, Comments and analysis of We Meet at the Judgment and I Fear It Not by Vachel Lindsay 10 Comments
Though I have watched so many mourners weep Comments and analysis of The Hope of the Resurrection by Vachel Lindsay 3 Comments
To be intoned, all but the two italicized lines, which are to be spoken in a snappy, matter-of-fact way. Comments and analysis of A Dirge for a Righteous Kitten by Vachel Lindsay 1 Comment
Too soon you wearied of our tears.
TRUE Love is founded in rocks of Remembrance Comments and analysis of Love and Law by Vachel Lindsay 9 Comments
Twelve snails went walking after night.
Two old crows sat on a fence rail. Comments and analysis of Two Old Crows by Vachel Lindsay 1 Comment
Two statesmen met by moonlight.
UNDER THE BLESSING OF YOUR PSYCHE WINGS
Upon her breast her hands and hair Comments and analysis of Caught in a Net by Vachel Lindsay 7 Comments
We are happy all the time
We are the smirched. Queen Honor is the spotless.
When Bryan speaks, the town's a hive.
When Yankee soldiers reach the barricade
Where a river roars in rapids
Where is David? . . . O God's people,
WHERE now the huts are empty,
Why do I see these empty boats, sailing on airy seas?
Would I might rouse the Lincoln in you all,
Would I might wake in you the whirl-wind soul Comments and analysis of Michaelangelo by Vachel Lindsay 3 Comments
Would I might wake St. Francis in you all, Comments and analysis of St. Francis of Assisi by Vachel Lindsay 13 Comments
Would that by Hindu magic we became Comments and analysis of Buddha by Vachel Lindsay 1 Comment
Would that in body and spirit Shakespeare came Comments and analysis of Shakespeare by Vachel Lindsay 3 Comments
Would that such hills and cities round us sang,
WRITTEN FOR LORADO TAFT'S STATUE OF BLACK HAWK AT OREGON, ILLINOIS
Written to Miss Alice L. F. Fitzgerald, Edith Cavell memorial nurse, going to the front.
Your dust will be upon the wind
[A Poem for Aviators]
[Concerning Edgar Allan Poe]
[Concerning O. Henry (Sidney Porter)]
[During an anti-saloon campaign, in central Illinois.]
[How different people and different animals look upon the moon: showing that each creature finds in it his own mood and disposition] Comments and analysis of The Light o' the Moon by Vachel Lindsay 1 Comment
[In memory of E. S. Frazee, Rush County, Indiana]
[Supposed to be chanted to some rude instrument at a modern fireplace] Comments and analysis of Eden in Winter by Vachel Lindsay 4 Comments
[This is the hymn to Eleanor, daughter of Mab and a golden drone, sung by the Locust choir when the fairy child marries her God, the yellow rose] Comments and analysis of The Fairy Bridal-Hymn by Vachel Lindsay 1 Comment
[To be sung to the tune of The Blood of the Lamb with indicated instrument] Comments and analysis of General William Booth Enters into Heaven by Vachel Lindsay 5 Comments
[What the Man of Faith said]
[Written for a picture]
[Written to the Most Beautiful Woman in the World]
[Written while a field-worker in the Anti-Saloon League of Illinois.]
"Bring me soft song," said Aladdin.
"If I could set the moon upon
"Tell me, where do ghosts in love Comments and analysis of Ghosts in Love by Vachel Lindsay 2 Comments
"The sun says his prayers," said the fairy, Comments and analysis of The Sun Says His Prayers by Vachel Lindsay 5 Comments
"Yes," said the sister with the little pinched face,
'Tis not too late to build our young land right,


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