Friday, November 10, 2006

Lindsay letter garners front page coverage

On Thursday, November 9, 2006, The State Journal-Register published a front page story by Pete Sherman about a 1928 typewritten letter from Vachel Lindsay to his Springfield High School English teacher and mentor, Susan Wilcox. The letter, which also contains handwritten annotations by Lindsay, was almost discarded but was saved by an errant breeze. The letter was offered to The Vachel Lindsay Association last September, but with so many libraries and museums around where it could be cared for properly, we had to decline it.

At the suggestion of former VLA President Bill Furry, the letter instead was presented to the Springfield High School Library on November 9, 2006. Read the SJ-R story here. A copy of the letter itself can be seen here (requires pdf reader).

The letter contains a reference to another important SHS alum and student of Miss Wilcox, Robert S. Fitzgerald, who would later become a renowned translator of the classics.

"Elizabeth and I were especially interested in the brilliant work of young Fitzgerald," Lindsay wrote of The Venture, a literary journal put together by Wilcox and her students.

Happy Birthday

100 years ago today, 27-year-old Vachel Lindsay celebrated his birthday in New York City by commencing the making of his poem, I Heard Emmanuel Singing. The poem was his interpretation of the startling dream he had the previous September. It was finished on Christmas Day.

Although one of the earliest of his poems, it bears many of the unique hallmarks that would appear throughout his body of work. The rhyme and meter of the poem is based on a familiar song or hymn and it includes directions from Lindsay on how to perform it. It is a rather long poem. The beginning of it is presented here.


The poem shows the Master with his work done, singing to free his heart in Heaven.

This poem is intended to be half said, half sung, very softly, to the well-known tune:-

"Last night I lay a-sleeping,
There came a dream so fair,
I stood in Old Jerusalem
Beside the temple there,-" etc.

Yet this tune is not to be fitted on arbitrarily. It is here given to suggest the manner of handling rather than determine it.

I heard Immanuel singing
Within his own good lands,
I saw him bend above his harp.
I watched his wandering hands
Lost amid the harp-strings;
Sweet, sweet I heard him play.
His wounds were altogether healed.
Old things had passed away.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Join the VLA

Join The Vachel Lindsay Association today and support our mission to keep the spirit of this great American poet and dreamer alive for all generations.

Our annual membership dues are $25.00 for Individuals, $35.00 for Family membership, $50.00 for Patrons and $100.00 Sustaining. We publish a quarterly newsletter and hold an annual meeting and banquet each November near Lindsay's birthday. We support activities at the Vachel Lindsay Home State Historic Site and special functions in the community. Your membership this year will help us to restore the "Rose and Lotus" mural in Downtown Springfield.

Send your check made payable to The Vachel Lindsay Association to:

The Vachel Lindsay Association
P.O. Box 9356
Springfield, IL 62791-9356