Yet Gentle Will the Griffin Be by Vachel Lindsay

(What Grandpa told the Children) The moon? It is a griffin’s egg, Hatching to-morrow night. And how the little boys will watch With shouting and delight To see him break the shell and stretch And creep across the sky. The boys will laugh. The little girls, I fear, may hide and cry. Yet gentle will […]

Yankee Doodle by Vachel Lindsay

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. Dawn this morning burned all red Watching them […]

Written for a Musician by Vachel Lindsay

HUNGRY for music with a desperate hunger I prowled abroad, I threaded through the town; The evening crowd was clamoring and drinking, Vulgar and pitiful–my heart bowed down– Till I remembered duller hours made noble By strangers clad in some suprising grace. Wait, wait my soul, your music comes ere midnight Appearing in some unexpected […]

With a Bouquet of Twelve Roses by Vachel Lindsay

I saw Lord Buddha towering by my gate Saying: “Once more, good youth, I stand and wait.” Saying: “I bring you my fair Law of Peace And from your withering passion full release; Release from that white hand that stabbed you so. The road is calling. With the wind you go, Forgetting her imperious disdain […]

Why I Voted the Socialist Ticket by Vachel Lindsay

I am unjust, but I can strive for justice. My life’s unkind, but I can vote for kindness. I, the unloving, say life should be lovely. I, that am blind, cry out against my blindness. Man is a curious brute — he pets his fancies — Fighting mankind, to win sweet luxury. So he will […]

Who Knows? by Vachel Lindsay

They say one king is mad. Perhaps. Who knows? They say one king is doddering and grey. They say one king is slack and sick of mind, A puppet for hid strings that twitch and play. Is Europe then to be their sprawling-place? Their mad-house, till it turns the wide world’s bane? Their place of […]

Where Is the Real Non-Resistant by Vachel Lindsay

(Matthew V, 38-48.) Who can surrender to Christ, dividing his best with the stranger, Giving to each what he asks, braving the uttermost danger All for the enemy, MAN? Who can surrender till death His words and his works, his house and his lands, His eyes and his heart and his breath? Who can surrender […]

Where Is David, the Next King of Israel? by Vachel Lindsay

Where is David? . . . O God’s people, Saul has passed, the good and great. Mourn for Saul the first-anointed — Head and shoulders o’er the state. He was found among the Prophets: Judge and monarch, merged in one. But the wars of Saul are ended And the works of Saul are done. Where […]

When Gassy Thompson Struck It Rich by Vachel Lindsay

He paid a Swede twelve bits an hour Just to invent a fancy style To spread the celebration paint So it would show at least a mile. Some things they did I will not tell. They’re not quite proper for a rhyme. But I will say Yim Yonson Swede Did sure invent a sunflower time. […]

When Bryan Speaks by Vachel Lindsay

When Bryan speaks, the town’s a hive. From miles around, the autos drive. The sparrow chirps. The rooster crows. The place is kicking and alive. When Bryan speaks, the bunting glows. The raw procession onward flows. The small dogs bark. The children laugh A wind of springtime fancy blows. When Bryan speaks, the wigwam shakes. […]

What the Sexton Said by Vachel Lindsay

Your dust will be upon the wind Within some certain years, Though you be sealed in lead to-day Amid the country’s tears. When this idyllic churchyard Becomes the heart of town, The place to build garage or inn, They’ll throw your tombstone down. Your name so dim, so long outworn, Your bones so near to […]

What the Rattlesnake Said by Vachel Lindsay

The moon’s a little prairie-dog. He shivers through the night. He sits upon his hill and cries For fear that I will bite. The sun’s a broncho. He’s afraid Like every other thing, And trembles, morning, noon and night, Lest I should spring, and sting. ————— The End And that’s the End of the Poem […]

What the Moon Saw by Vachel Lindsay

Two statesmen met by moonlight. Their ease was partly feigned. They glanced about the prairie. Their faces were constrained. In various ways aforetime They had misled the state, Yet did it so politely Their henchmen thought them great. They sat beneath a hedge and spake No word, but had a smoke. A satchel passed from […]

What the Miner in the Desert Said by Vachel Lindsay

The moon’s a brass-hooped water-keg, A wondrous water-feast. If I could climb the ridge and drink And give drink to my beast; If I could drain that keg, the flies Would not be biting so, My burning feet be spry again, My mule no longer slow. And I could rise and dig for ore, And […]

What the Gray-Winged Fairy Said by Vachel Lindsay

The moon’s a gong, hung in the wild, Whose song the fays hold dear. Of course you do not hear it, child. It takes a FAIRY ear. The full moon is a splendid gong That beats as night grows still. It sounds above the evening song Of dove or whippoorwill. ————— The End And that’s […]

What the Ghost of the Gambler Said by Vachel Lindsay

WHERE now the huts are empty, Where never a camp-fire glows, In an abandoned cañon, A Gambler’s Ghost arose. He muttered there, “The moon’s a sack Of dust.” His voice rose thin: “I wish I knew the miner-man. I’d play, and play to win. In every game in Cripple-creek Of old, when stakes were high, […]

What the Coal-Heaver Said by Vachel Lindsay

The moon’s an open furnace door Where all can see the blast, We shovel in our blackest griefs, Upon that grate are cast Our aching burdens, loves and fears And underneath them wait Paper and tar and pitch and pine Called strife and blood and hate. Out of it all there comes a flame, A […]

What Semiramis Said by Vachel Lindsay

THE moon’s a steaming chalice, Of honey and venom-wine. A little of it sipped by night Makes the long hours divine. But oh, my reckless lovers, They drain the cup and wail, Die at my feet with shaking limbs And tender lips all pale. Above them in the sky it bends Empty and gray and […]

The Trap by Vachel Lindsay

She was taught desire in the street, Not at the angels’ feet. By the good no word was said Of the worth of the bridal bed. The secret was learned from the vile, Not from her mother’s smile. Home spoke not. And the girl Was caught in the public whirl. Do you say “She gave […]

The Tale of the Tiger-Tree by Vachel Lindsay

A Fantasy, dedicated to the little poet Alice Oliver Henderson, ten years old. The Fantasy shows how tiger-hearts are the cause of war in all ages. It shows how the mammoth forces may be either friends or enemies of the struggle for peace. It shows how the dream of peace is unconquerable and eternal. I […]

The Spider and the Ghost of the Fly by Vachel Lindsay

Once I loved a spider When I was born a fly, A velvet-footed spider With a gown of rainbow-dye. She ate my wings and gloated. She bound me with a hair. She drove me to her parlor Above her winding stair. To educate young spiders She took me all apart. My ghost came back to […]

The Soul of the City Receives the Gift of the Holy Spirit by Vachel Lindsay

A BROADSIDE DISTRIBUTED IN SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS Censers are swinging, Over the town; Censers are swinging, Look overhead! Censers are swinging, Heaven comes down. City, dead city, Awake from the dead! Censers, tremendous, Gleam overhead. Wind-harps are ringing, Wind-harps unseen— Calling and calling:— “Wake from the dead. Rise, little city, Shine like a queen.” Soldiers of […]

The Song of the Garden-Toad by Vachel Lindsay

Down, down beneath the daisy beds, O hear the cries of pain! And moaning on the cinder-path They’re blind amid the rain. Can murmurs of the worms arise To higher hearts than mine? I wonder if that gardener hears Who made the mold all fine And packed each gentle seedling down So carefully in line? […]

The Scissors-Grinder by Vachel Lindsay

The old man had his box and wheel For grinding knives and shears. No doubt his bell in village streets Was joy to children’s ears. And I bethought me of my youth When such men came around, And times I asked them in, quite sure The scissors should be ground. The old man turned and […]

The Rose of Midnight by Vachel Lindsay

THE moon is now an opening flower, The sky a cliff of blue. The moon is now a silver rose; Her pollen is the dew. Her pollen is the mist that swings Across her face of dreams: Her pollen is the April rain, Filling the April streams. Her pollen is eternal life, Endless ambrosial foam. […]

The Raft by Vachel Lindsay

The whole world on a raft! A King is here, The record of his grandeur but a smear. Is it his deacon-beard, or old bald pate That makes the band upon his whims to wait? Loot and mud-honey have his soul defiled. Quack, pig, and priest, he drives camp-meetings wild Until they shower their pennies […]

The Proud Farmer by Vachel Lindsay

[In memory of E. S. Frazee, Rush County, Indiana] Into the acres of the newborn state He poured his strength, and plowed his ancient name, And, when the traders followed him, he stood Towering above their furtive souls and tame. That brow without a stain, that fearless eye Oft left the passing stranger wondering To […]

The Prarie Battlements by Vachel Lindsay

(To Edgar Lee Masters, with great respect) HERE upon the prarie Is our ancestral hall. Agate is the dome, Cornelian the wall. Ghouls are in the cellar, But fays upon the stairs. And here lived old King Silver Dreams, Always at his prayers. Here lived gray Queen Silver Dreams, Always signing psalms, And haughty Grandma […]

The Perfect Marriage by Vachel Lindsay

I I hate this yoke; for the world’s sake here put it on: Knowing ’twill weigh as much on you till life is gone. Knowing you love your freedom dear, as I love mine— Knowing that love unchained has been our life’s great wine: Our one great wine (yet spent too soon, and serving none; […]

The Mysterious Cat by Vachel Lindsay

A chant for a children’s pantomime dance, suggested by a picture painted by George Mather Richards. I saw a proud, mysterious cat, I saw a proud, mysterious cat Too proud to catch a mouse or rat— Mew, mew, mew. But catnip she would eat, and purr, But catnip she would eat, and purr. And goldfish […]

The Moon’s the North Wind’s Cooky by Vachel Lindsay

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. The South Wind is a baker. He kneads clouds in his den, And bakes a crisp new moon that . . . greedy North . . . Wind . . . eats […]

The Moon is a Painter by Vachel Lindsay

He coveted her portrait. He toiled as she grew gay. She loved to see him labor In that devoted way. And in the end it pleased her, But bowed him more with care. Her rose-smile showed so plainly, Her soul-smile was not there. That night he groped without a lamp To find a cloak, a […]

The Merciful Hand by Vachel Lindsay

Written to Miss Alice L. F. Fitzgerald, Edith Cavell memorial nurse, going to the front. Your fine white hand is Heaven’s gift To cure the wide world, stricken sore, Bleeding at the breast and head, Tearing at its wounds once more. Your white hand is a prophecy, A living hope that Christ shall come And […]

The Master of the Dance by Vachel Lindsay

A chant to which it is intended a group of children shall dance and improvise pantomime led by their dancing-teacher. I A master deep-eyed Ere his manhood was ripe, He sang like a thrush, He could play any pipe. So dull in the school That he scarcely could spell, He read but a bit, And […]

The Little Turtle by Vachel Lindsay

A Recitation for Martha Wakefield, Three Years Old There was a little turtle. He lived in a box. He swam in a puddle. He climbed on the rocks. He snapped at a mosquito. He snapped at a flea. He snapped at a minnow. And he snapped at me. He caught the mosquito. He caught the […]

The Lion by Vachel Lindsay

The Lion is a kingly beast. He likes a Hindu for a feast. And if no Hindu he can get, The lion-family is upset. He cuffs his wife and bites her ears Till she is nearly moved to tears. Then some explorer finds the den And all is family peace again. ————— The End And […]

The Light o’ the Moon by Vachel Lindsay

[How different people and different animals look upon the moon: showing that each creature finds in it his own mood and disposition] The Old Horse in the City The moon’s a peck of corn. It lies Heaped up for me to eat. I wish that I might climb the path And taste that supper sweet. […]

The Leaden-Eyed by Vachel Lindsay

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. Not that they starve; but starve so dreamlessly, Not that they sow, but that they seldom reap, Not that they serve, […]

The King of Yellow Butterflies by Vachel Lindsay

(A Poem Game.) The King of Yellow Butterflies, The King of Yellow Butterflies, The King of Yellow Butterflies, Now orders forth his men. He says “The time is almost here When violets bloom again.” Adown the road the fickle rout Goes flashing proud and bold, A down the road the fickle rout Goes flashing proud […]

The Jingo and the Minstrel by Vachel Lindsay

AN ARGUMENT FOR THE MAINTENANCE OF PEACE AND GOODWILL WITH THE JAPANESE PEOPLE Glossary for the uninstructed and the hasty: Jimmu Tenno, ancestor of all the Japanese Emperors; Nikko, Japan’s loveliest shrine; Iyeyasu, her greatest statesman; Bushido, her code of knighthood; The Forty-seven Ronins, her classic heroes; Nogi, her latest hero; Fuji, her most beautiful […]