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)

Poems By Vachel Lindsay


A Curse for Kings (No Comments »)
A Dirge for a Righteous Kitten (1 Comment »)
A Net to Snare the Moonlight (1 Comment »)
A Prayer to All the Dead among Mine Own People (No Comments »)
A Rhyme About an Electrical Advertising Sign (No Comments »)
A Sense of Humor (1 Comment »)
Above the Battle’s Front (No Comments »)
Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight (7 Comments »)
Aladdin and the Jinn (No Comments »)
Alone in the Wind, on the Prairie (No Comments »)
An Apology for the Bottle Volcanic (No Comments »)
An Argument (No Comments »)
An Indian Summer Day on the Prarie (No Comments »)
At Mass (1 Comment »)
Beyond the Moon (No Comments »)
Blanche Sweet (No Comments »)
Buddha (1 Comment »)
By the Spring, at Sunset (1 Comment »)
Caught in a Net (1 Comment »)
Concerning Emperors (No Comments »)
Darling Daughter of Babylon (No Comments »)
Drying Their Wings (No Comments »)
Eden in Winter (No Comments »)
Elizabeth Barrett Browning (No Comments »)
Epilogue (No Comments »)
Epitaphs For Two Players (No Comments »)
Euclid (1 Comment »)
Factory Windows are Always Broken (4 Comments »)
Foreign Missions in Battle Array (No Comments »)
Galahad, Knight Who Perished (No Comments »)
General William Booth Enters into Heaven (3 Comments »)
Genesis (2 Comments »)
Ghosts in Love (2 Comments »)
Heart of God (No Comments »)
Here’s to the Mice! (1 Comment »)
Honor Among Scamps (No Comments »)
How a Little Girl Danced (No Comments »)
How a Little Girl Sang (No Comments »)
How I Walked Alone in the Jungles of Heaven (No Comments »)
How Samson Bore Away the Gates of Gaza (No Comments »)
I Heard Immanuel Singing (No Comments »)
I Went Down into the Desert (No Comments »)
In Memory of a Child (No Comments »)
In Praise of Songs that Die (No Comments »)
Incense (No Comments »)
King Arthur’s Men Have Come Again (No Comments »)
Lincoln (No Comments »)
Look You, I’ll Go Pray (No Comments »)
Love and Law (4 Comments »)
Mae Marsh, Motion Picture Actress (1 Comment »)
Mark Twain and Joan of Arc (No Comments »)
Michaelangelo (1 Comment »)
My Lady in Her White Silk Shawl (No Comments »)
Niagara (No Comments »)
On Reading Omar Khayyam (No Comments »)
On the Building of Springfield (No Comments »)
On the Garden Wall (No Comments »)
On the Road to Nowhere (1 Comment »)
Our Guardian Angels and Their Children (No Comments »)
Our Mother Pocahontas (No Comments »)
Popcorn, Glass Balls, and Cranberries (No Comments »)
Prologue to “Rhymes to be Traded for Bread” (No Comments »)
Queen Mab in the Village (No Comments »)
Rhymes for Gloriana (No Comments »)
Shakespeare (2 Comments »)
Springfield Magical (1 Comment »)
St. Francis of Assisi (No Comments »)
Star of My Heart (1 Comment »)
Sunshine (No Comments »)
Sweet Briars of the Stairways (No Comments »)
Sweethearts of the Year (No Comments »)
The Alchemist’s Petition (No Comments »)
The Amaranth (No Comments »)
The Angel and the Clown (No Comments »)
The Bankrupt Peace-Maker (1 Comment »)
The Beggar’s Valentine (No Comments »)
The Black Hawk War of the Artists (No Comments »)
The Booker Washington Trilogy (No Comments »)
The Broncho That Would Not Be Broken (5 Comments »)
The Chinese Nightingale (1 Comment »)
The City That Will Not Repent (No Comments »)
The Congo: A Study of the Negro Race (18 Comments »)
The Cornfields (No Comments »)
The Dandelion (2 Comments »)
The Drunkard’s Funeral (No Comments »)
The Drunkards in the Street (No Comments »)
The Eagle That is Forgotten (6 Comments »)
The Empty Boats (No Comments »)
The Encyclopaedia (No Comments »)
The Fairy Bridal-Hymn (No Comments »)
The Firemen’s Ball (No Comments »)
The Flower of Mending (1 Comment »)
The Flower-Fed Buffaloes (22 Comments »)
The Gamblers (No Comments »)
The Ghosts of the Buffaloes (No Comments »)
The Haughty Snail-King (No Comments »)
The Hearth Eternal (No Comments »)
The Hope of the Resurrection (3 Comments »)
The Illinois Village (No Comments »)
The Jingo and the Minstrel (No Comments »)
The King of Yellow Butterflies (No Comments »)
The Knight in Disguise (No Comments »)
The Leaden-Eyed (2 Comments »)
The Light o’ the Moon (1 Comment »)
The Lion (No Comments »)
The Little Turtle (3 Comments »)
The Master of the Dance (No Comments »)
The Merciful Hand (No Comments »)
The Moon is a Painter (1 Comment »)
The Moon’s the North Wind’s Cooky (3 Comments »)
The Mysterious Cat (2 Comments »)
The North Star Whispers to the Blacksmith’s Son (1 Comment »)
The Perfect Marriage (No Comments »)
The Potatoes’ Dance (2 Comments »)
The Prarie Battlements (No Comments »)
The Proud Farmer (No Comments »)
The Queen of Bubbles (No Comments »)
The Raft (No Comments »)
The Rose of Midnight (2 Comments »)
The Santa-Fe Trail (A Humoresque) (No Comments »)
The Scissors-Grinder (No Comments »)
The Song of the Garden-Toad (No Comments »)
The Sorceress! (No Comments »)
The Soul of the City Receives the Gift of the Holy Spirit (No Comments »)
The Spice-Tree (2 Comments »)
The Spider and the Ghost of the Fly (1 Comment »)
The Strength of the Lonely (No Comments »)
The Sun Says His Prayers (1 Comment »)
The Tale of the Tiger-Tree (No Comments »)
The Trap (No Comments »)
The Traveller-Heart (No Comments »)
The Tree of Laughing Bells (No Comments »)
The Unpardonable Sin (1 Comment »)
The Wedding of the Rose and the Lotos (1 Comment »)
The Wizard in the Street (No Comments »)
This Section is a Christmas Tree (No Comments »)
This, My Song, Is Made For Kerensky (No Comments »)
Titian (No Comments »)
To Buddha (No Comments »)
To Gloriana (No Comments »)
To Jane Addams at the Hague (No Comments »)
To Lady Jane (No Comments »)
To Mary Pickford (No Comments »)
To Reformers in Despair (No Comments »)
To the United States Senate (No Comments »)
Two Old Crows (No Comments »)
Upon Returning to the Country Road (No Comments »)
We Meet at the Judgment and I Fear It Not (No Comments »)
What Semiramis Said (No Comments »)
What the Coal-Heaver Said (No Comments »)
What the Ghost of the Gambler Said (No Comments »)
What the Gray-Winged Fairy Said (No Comments »)
What the Miner in the Desert Said (No Comments »)
What the Moon Saw (No Comments »)
What the Rattlesnake Said (1 Comment »)
What the Sexton Said (No Comments »)
When Bryan Speaks (No Comments »)
When Gassy Thompson Struck It Rich (No Comments »)
Where Is David, the Next King of Israel? (No Comments »)
Where Is the Real Non-Resistant (No Comments »)
Who Knows? (No Comments »)
Why I Voted the Socialist Ticket (No Comments »)
With a Bouquet of Twelve Roses (No Comments »)
Written for a Musician (No Comments »)
Yankee Doodle (No Comments »)
Yet Gentle Will the Griffin Be (No Comments »)