Monday, March 20, 2006

One hundred years ago today

It was Sunday morning in the middle of March. I was stranded in Jacksonville, Florida. After breakfast I had five cents left. Joyously I purchased a sack of peanuts, then started northwest on the railway ties straight toward that part of Georgia marked "Swamp" on the map.

Sunset found me in a pine forest. I decided to ask for a meal and lodging at the white house looming half a mile ahead just by the track. I prepared a speech to this effect: - "I am the peddler of dreams. I am the sole active member of the ancient brotherhood of the troubadours. It is against the rules of our order to receive money. We have a habit of asking a night's lodging in exchange for repeating verses and fairy tales."

Vachel Lindsay, A Handy Guide for Beggars

1 comment:

Larry Stevens said...

Thus began Lindsay's storied career of tramping across America, "trading rhymes for bread," evoking the Divine by giving strangers the opportunity to take in a stranger.

"A Field Worker of the American Dream," biographer Anna Massa called him. Indeed, one can only imagine what Lindsay could have contributed through the auspices of the WPA if only he had lived out his natural life.