Spokane’s Resident Poet

From the Writer’s Almanac:

It’s the birthday of the poet Vachel Lindsay (books by this author), born in Springfield, Illinois (1879). His parents wanted him to become a doctor, but he dropped out of medical school after three years and tried to make a living drawing pictures and writing poetry. After struggling for several years and working for a time in the toy department of Marshall Field’s, he decided to walk across the United States, trading his poems and pictures for food and shelter along the way. It wasn’t nearly as exciting as he thought it would be. He said, “No one cared for my pictures, no one cared for my verse, and I turned beggar in sheer desperation … [but] I was entirely prepared to die for my work, if necessary, by the side of the road, and was almost at the point of it at times.” In 1913, Poetry magazine published Lindsay’s poem “General William Booth Enters into Heaven,” and it was a big hit. He went on to write many collections of poetry for adults and children, including The Tree of the Laughing Bells (1905) and Every Soul Is a Circus (1929).

Vachel Lindsay lived in Spokane from 1924 to 1929.


  1. Here are some readings of a San Bruno poet:

  2. That man lived by his wits, AND his words.

  3. Jonathan Potter says

    At Mass

    by Vachel Lindsay

    No doubt to-morrow I will hide
    My face from you, my King.
    Let me rejoice this Sunday noon,
    And kneel while gray priests sing.

    It is not wisdom to forget.
    But since it is my fate
    Fill thou my soul with hidden wine
    To make this white hour great.

    My God, my God, this marvelous hour
    I am your son I know.
    Once in a thousand days your voice
    Has laid temptation low.

  4. In the end, of course, he drank lye and exclaimed, “They tried to get me — I got them first!”


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