by Vachel Lindsay
Would I might rouse the Lincoln in you all,
That which is gendered in the wilderness
From lonely prairies and God’s tenderness.
Imperial soul, star of a weedy stream,
Born where the ghosts of buffaloes still dream,
Whose spirit hoof-beats storm above his grave,
Above that breast of earth and prairie-fire—
Fire that freed the slave.
Vachel Lindsay Biography
During Vachel's high school life, he befriended teacher Susan Wilcox, and soon she became his guiding light for the rest of his life. Vachel was a star on his track team, and even competed in the Illinois State Championship meet for the top track athletes in the state. As he moved into higher education, his parents wanted him to continue the family dynasty by enrolling into the premedical education at Hiram College in Ohio. Vachel went on to fail med school, and soon found a passion for art and literature. He convinced his parents that he would transfer to the New York School of Art, and there is where he found his true passion: poetry. One of Vachel’s professors, Robert Henry, convinced the struggling artist that poetry might be his calling in life. Taking his advice, Vachel Lindsay began his career as a poet. Vachel began traveling the world and giving talks and lectures to people that were interested in him and his poetry. When he was finished with that portion of his life, he returned home to Springfield Illinois. He gave talks at Springfield High to the delight of his former teacher Susan Wilcox. In early 1922, Vachel lost the most important women in his life: his mother. His health, soon after his mother’s death, began to fail. He collapsed numerous times before receiving two sinus surgeries, and eventually took a teaching position at Gulf Park College. Vachel married a 23-year-old student at the university and two weeks later became married. They had two children together. In 1929, Vachel and his family moved back to the Springfield homestead (where he was born) and lived there for the remainder of his life. Sadly, his life ended after two short years in his childhood home. The Lindsay’s ran out of money quickly, so Vachel soon was back on the road to give talks and lectures in England and other countries. His mental and physical health degraded, and he soon became a disheartened man. In December of 1931, Vachel had finally had enough. He drank a bottle of lye and had a horribly slow death in a bathroom just above the room he was born in. Vachel was buried in the same cemetery as his lifetime hero Abraham Lincoln. On his tombstone, it listed his name, and then one single word: poet.