Friday, November 10, 2006

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.

I HEARD EMMANUEL SINGING

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.

12 comments:

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Larry Stevens said...

We got some birthday spam

Job Conger/Writer's Chronicle said...

Larry --
Congratulations and kudos for an excellent effort! I can't think of a VLA board member better suited to the task, and my only regret is that you're presiding over a blog requiring a password and not a web site.
You clearly have a fine understanding of the poet and the technical ability for this blog.
I have just posted pictures from the 127th birthday celebration at the Vachel Lindsay Home State Historic Site at my web site www.civag.com/lind127.htm
I have some thoughts to share with you offline, so may I ask you to e me with your email address? I will keep it in confidence, I guarantee.
Keep up the great work!
-- Job

Larry Stevens said...

Thanks, Job.

Embarrassing as it is to admit, we just couldn't keep the old website going. It was never as reliable or as functional as a website should be. Our human resources are quite limited and this really is the best we can do for now.

We feel it is better to have free blog that only requires a quick registration for posting comments than a website that is never accessible at all, grows stale quickly and (even when it was up)has no functionality for interactivity. As I've said to others, you wouldn't even have been able to post a comment at the old website.

I started this blog as my own project and turned it over to the VLA when the Board saw these advantages. The money that was being wasted on the defunct website was put to much better use this year transferring Look Into Your Heart onto DVD and getting Lee Gurga for the annual meeting. Next year, the savings will be put toward the badly-needed refurbishing of the "Rose and Lotus" mural.

Another advantage of the blog is the ability to connect to all the bloggers out there who regularly discuss VL or post his poetry. Whenever I hear the oft-repeated refrain that Lindsay is almost completely forgotten, I merely cite the dozens of mentions he gets every week in the blogosphere.

Again, thanks for the complement. I hope this addresses your concern. I'll e-mail you soon.

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