Nicholas Vachel Lindsay was born on November 10, 1879 in Springfield, Illinois. The second of six children and the only son of Dr. Vachel Thomas Lindsay and Esther Catharine Frazee Lindsay. Vachel did not attend school until he was eight. He was taught at home by his mother, who had been a teacher and artist before her marriage. Grimm’s Fairy Tales is said to have been his primer. He graduated from Stuart School in 1893, having skipped the seventh grade and winning several prizes for his writing compositions.
During his youth, Vachel was encouraged to follow in his father’s footsteps, therefore as a dutiful son, he enrolled at Hiram College, as a premedical student in 1897. Three... more »
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Vachel Lindsay Poems
The Congo: A Study of the Negro Race
I. THEIR BASIC SAVAGERY Fat black bucks in a wine-barrel room, Barrel-house kings, with feet unstable,
Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight
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.
Let not young souls be smothered out before They do quaint deeds and fully flaunt their pride. It is the world's one crime its babes grow dull, Its poor are ox-like, limp and leaden-eyed.
The Moon's the North Wind's Cooky
The Moon's the North Wind's cooky. He bites it, day by day, Until there's but a rim of scraps That crumble all away.
A Sense of Humor
No man should stand before the moon To make sweet song thereon, With dandified importance, His sense of humor gone.
An Indian Summer Day on the Prairie
(IN THE BEGINNING) The sun is a huntress young, The sun is a red, red joy,
This Section is a Christmas Tree
This section is a Christmas tree: Loaded with pretty toys for you. Behold the blocks, the Noah's arks, The popguns painted red and blue.
The Little Turtle
A Recitation for Martha Wakefield, Three Years Old There was a little turtle.
The Flower-Fed Buffaloes
The flower-fed buffaloes of the spring In the days of long ago, Ranged where the locomotives sing And the prarie flowers lie low:
Darling Daughter of Babylon
Too soon you wearied of our tears. And then you danced with spangled feet, Leading Belshazzar's chattering court A-tinkling through the shadowy street.
Beyond the Moon
[Written to the Most Beautiful Woman in the World] M< Sweetheart is the TRUTH BEYOND THE MOON,
A Dirge for a Righteous Kitten
To be intoned, all but the two italicized lines, which are to be spoken in a snappy, matter-of-fact way. Ding-dong, ding-dong, ding-dong.
By the Spring, at Sunset
Sometimes we remember kisses, Remember the dear heart-leap when they came: Not always, but sometimes we remember The kindness, the dumbness, the good flame
Would that by Hindu magic we became Dark monks of jeweled India long ago, Sitting at Prince Siddartha's feet to know The foolishness of gold and love and station,
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Edgar Allan Poe
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The Congo: A Study of the Negro Race
I. THEIR BASIC SAVAGERY
Fat black bucks in a wine-barrel room,
Barrel-house kings, with feet unstable,
Sagged and reeled and pounded on the table,
A deep rolling bass.
Pounded on the table,
Beat an empty barrel with the handle of a broom,
Hard as they were able,
Boom, boom, BOOM,
With a silk umbrella and the handle of a broom,
Boomlay, boomlay, boomlay, BOOM.
THEN I had religion, THEN I had a vision.
I could not turn from their revel in derision.
THEN I SAW THE CONGO, CREEPING THROUGH THE BLACK,
More deliberate. Solemnly ...