Vachel Lindsay

September 25, 2006


Nicholas Vachel Lindsay
A vigorous force for bringing poetry to the people
Wantered the American countryside, trading his poems for food and shelter: “Rhymes to be Traded for Bread”
Born in Springfield, IL
Performed poetry continually: but only one recording survived
Believed in the possibility of a utopia: very idealistic about changing the world: tried to rally people together while traveling the country
Very spiritual: raised a Cambelite but developed into more of a Mystic
Published 36 volumes of poetry and prose
Insisted that individuals must follow the line of beauty: be bold with the song of our lives
His son is a freak- according to the video I saw
Called the “Prarie Troubador” in his youth
Called himself the “Rhymer Designer”: wrote his poems to go along with his drawings
Very lonely: searched for the ideal woman
Was madly in love with the poet Sara Teasdale (asked her to “Be my corn bride”), but she refused to marry him although she loved him: married a rich shoe maker instead
Killed himself by drinking a bottle of Lysol bleach: knew it was one of the most painful ways to die
Highly regarded as an inovative poet in his time, but forgotten today


It is portentous, and a thing of state / That here at midnight, in our little town / A mourning figure walks, and will not rest, / Near the old court-house pacing up and down, / Or by his homestead, or in shadowed yards / He lingers where his children used to play, / Or through the market, on the well-worn stones / He stalks until the dawn-stars burn away.
A bronzed, lank man! His suit of ancient black, / A famous high-top hat and plain worn shawl / Make him the quaint great figure that men love,  / The prairie-lawyer, master of us all.
He cannot sleep upon his hillside now. / He is among us:–as in times before! / And we who toss and lie awake for long, / Breathe deep, and start, to see him pass the door.
His head is bowed. He thinks of men and kings. / Yea, when the sick world cries, how can he sleep? / Too many peasants fight, they know not why; / Too many homesteads in black terror weep.
The sins of all the war-lords burn his heart. / He sees the dreadnoughts scouring every main. /  He carries on his shawl-draped shoulders now / The bitterness, the folly and the pain.
He cannot rest until a spirit-dawn / Shall come;–the shining hope of Europe free: / A league of sober folk, the worker’s earth, / Bringing long peace to Cornland, Alp and Sea.
It breaks his heart that kings must murder still, / That all his hours of travail here for men / Seem yet in vain. And who will bring white peace / That he may sleep upon his hill again?

-Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight (in Springfield, Illinois) (in whole)


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