Original Vachel Lindsay materials are part of an exhibit that runs
through Oct. 31 in the waiting area for the museum's "Ghosts of the
Library" show. The display, which requires paid museum admission to
view, features artwork by and about Lindsay, his published works and
other pieces, all from the collections of the Abraham Lincoln
Lindsay's published works on display include "The Golden Book of
Springfield" (1920), "The Congo and Other Poems" (1922), and a copy
of "The Chinese Nightingale and Other Poems" (1920) signed by Vachel
Lindsay on March 24, 1922. There is also a copy of his 1907 poem
"Her Name is Romance" that contains the dedication "To Lady Jane."
The display includes two original pieces of artwork created by
Lindsay. In "Machinery," an undated, watercolor-mixed media piece,
Lindsay depicts a scene from his poem of the same name. In the poem,
a bird explains to the Queen of Egypt that birds are machinery, for
the Queen did not appreciate what birds were capable of
accomplishing. The other original work is "The Wedding of the Rose
and the Lotus" (1913). The artistic poem was written about the
completion of the Panama Canal, and the words to the poem are
hand-printed along both sides of the painting.
The exhibit also includes an undated painting by Lilian Scalzo,
an art instructor at Springfield Junior College, titled "Dragons,
Dragons" that depicts Lindsay reciting "The Chinese Nightingale."
Visitors are also encouraged to visit the nearby
Vachel Lindsay Home State Historic Site at 603 S. Fifth
St. in Springfield. The home is the birthplace and longtime
residence of poet, author and artist Nicholas Vachel Lindsay,
1879-1931. It is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4
p.m. for free public tours.
Lindsay was born Nov. 10, 1879, to Dr. Vachel Thomas Lindsay and
Catharine Frazee Lindsay. He graduated from Springfield High School
and studied at Hiram College in Ohio, the Chicago Art Institute and
the New York School of Art.
Lindsay made three famous walking tours of the United States in
1906, 1908 and 1912, covering more than 2,800 miles. On these
journeys, Lindsay traded poems for food and shelter, earning him the
title of "The Prairie Troubadour."
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Lindsay was catapulted to fame with the 1913 publication of his
poem "General William Booth Enters into Heaven." Two years later his
poem "The Wedding of the Rose and the Lotus," calling for tolerance
between Western and Eastern cultures, was printed by the United
States secretary of the interior and sent to both houses of Congress
in connection with the opening of the Panama Canal.
Lindsay called himself a "Rhymer-Designer" and created drawings
to accompany his poems. He was a leading voice in the American "New
Poetry" movement, with a total published work of some 20 volumes of
poetry and prose. Lindsay and other major poets and artists of his
day championed a new language to express new subjects, such as civil
liberties, civic excellence, and humanitarian and aesthetic values.
He wrote poems of vehement protest against spiritual and
Lindsay's Springfield home was his creative center, and he
returned there many times during his career. He cited his hometown
and state more than 500 times in his publications. "The things most
worth while are one's own hearth and neighborhood," said Lindsay.
Lindsay also enjoyed the respect of his colleagues. Sinclair
Lewis called Lindsay "one of our few great poets, a power and a
glory in the land." Author, poet and Illinois native Carl Sandburg
said, "I rate (his poems) among the supremely great American poems."
For more information about programs and exhibits at the Abraham
Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, visit
Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum
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