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LINDSAY, Vachel


General William Booth Enters into Heaven

[To be sung to the tune of The Blood of the Lamb with indicated instrument]

[BASS DRUM BEATEN LOUDLY]

Booth led boldly with his big bass drum—   

(Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?)   

The Saints smiled gravely and they said: “He’s come.”   

(Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?)   

Walking lepers followed, rank on rank,   

Lurching bravoes from the ditches dank,   

Drabs from the alleyways and drug fiends pale—   

Minds still passion-ridden, soul-powers frail:—   

Vermin-eaten saints with mouldy breath,   

Unwashed legions with the ways of Death—   

(Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?)   

[BANJOS]

Every slum had sent its half-a-score   

The round world over. (Booth had groaned for more.)   

Every banner that the wide world flies   

Bloomed with glory and transcendent dyes.   

Big-voiced lasses made their banjos bang,   

Tranced, fanatical they shrieked and sang:—   

“Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?”   

Hallelujah! It was queer to see   

Bull-necked convicts with that land make free.   

Loons with trumpets blowed a blare, blare, blare   

On, on upward thro’ the golden air!   

(Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?)   

[BASS DRUM SLOWER AND SOFTER]

Booth died blind and still by Faith he trod,   

Eyes still dazzled by the ways of God.   

Booth led boldly, and he looked the chief   

Eagle countenance in sharp relief,   

Beard a-flying, air of high command   

Unabated in that holy land.   

[SWEET FLUTE MUSIC]

Jesus came from out the court-house door,   

Stretched his hands above the passing poor.   

Booth saw not, but led his queer ones there   

Round and round the mighty court-house square.   

Yet in an instant all that blear review   

Marched on spotless, clad in raiment new.   

The lame were straightened, withered limbs uncurled   

And blind eyes opened on a new, sweet world.   

[BASS DRUM LOUDER]

Drabs and vixens in a flash made whole!   

Gone was the weasel-head, the snout, the jowl!   

Sages and sibyls now, and athletes clean,   

Rulers of empires, and of forests green!   

[GRAND CHORUS OF ALL INSTRUMENTS, TAMBOURINES TO THE FOREGROUND]

The hosts were sandalled, and their wings were fire!   

(Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?)   

But their noise played havoc with the angel-choir.   

(Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?)   

O shout Salvation! It was good to see   

Kings and Princes by the Lamb set free.   

The banjos rattled and the tambourines   

Jing-jing-jingled in the hands of Queens.   

[REVERENTLY SUNG. NO INSTRUMENTS]

And when Booth halted by the curb for prayer   

He saw his Master thro’ the flag-filled air.   

Christ came gently with a robe and crown   

For Booth the soldier, while the throng knelt down.   

He saw King Jesus. They were face to face,   

And he knelt a-weeping in that holy place.   

Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?


The Congo
…..
Listen to the yell of Leopold's ghost

Burning in Hell for his hand-maimed host.

Hear how the demons chuckle and yell

Cutting his hands off, down in Hell.

Listen to the creepy proclamation,

Blown through the lairs of the forest-nation,

Blown past the white-ants' hill of clay,

Blown past the marsh where the butterflies play:—

"Be careful what you do,

Or Mumbo-Jumbo, God of the Congo,
…..

The North Star Whispers to the Blacksmith's Son

THE North Star whispers: "You are one

Of those whose course no chance can change.

You blunder, but are not undone,

Your spirit-task is fixed and strange.

"When here you walk, a bloodless shade,

A singer all men else forget.

Your chants of hammer, forge and spade

Will move the prarie-village yet.

"That young, stiff-necked, reviling town

Beholds your fancies on her walls,

And paints them out or tears them down,

Or bars them from her feasting halls.

"Yet shall the fragments still remain;

Yet shall remain some watch-tower strong

That ivy-vines will not disdain,

Haunted and trembling with your song.

"Your flambeau in the dusk shall burn,

Flame high in storms, flame white and clear;

Your ghost in gleaming robes return

And burn a deathless incense here."


What Semiramis Said

THE moon's a steaming chalice,

Of honey and venom-wine.

A little of it sipped by night

Makes the long hours divine.

But oh, my reckless lovers,

They drain the cup and wail,

Die at my feet with shaking limbs

And tender lips all pale.

Above them in the sky it bends

Empty and gray and dead.

To-morrow night 'tis full again,

Golden, and foaming red


The Dandelion

O DANDELION, rich and haughty,

King of village flowers!

Each day is coronation time,

You have no humble hours.

I like to see you bring a troop

To beat the blue-grass spears,

To scorn the lawn-mower that would be

Like fate's triumphant shears,

Your yellow heads are cut away,

It seems your reign is o'er.

By noon you raise a sea of stars

More golden than before.



THE KALLYOPE YELL

IV
…..
Every soul
Resident
In the earth's one circus tent!
Every man a trapeze king
Then a pleased spectator there.
On the benches! In the ring!
While the neighbors gawk and stare
And the cheering rolls along.
Almost every day a race
When the merry starting gong
Rings, each chariot on the line,
Every driver fit and fine
With a steel-spring Roman grace.
Almost every day a dream,
Almost every day a dream.
Every girl,
Maid or wife,
Wild with music,
Eyes agleam
With that marvel called desire:
Actress, princess, fit for life,
Armed with honor like a knife,
Jumping thro' the hoops of fire.
(Listen to the lion roar!)
Making all the children shout
Clowns shall tumble all about,
Painted high and full of song
While the cheering rolls along,
Tho' they scream,
Tho' they rage,
Every beast in his cage,
Every beast in his den,
That aforetime troubled men.
…..


To Gloriana

Girl with the burning golden eyes,
And red-bird song, and snowy throat:
I bring you gold and silver moons,
And diamond stars, and mists that float.
I bring you moons and snowy clouds,
I bring you prairie skies to-night
To feebly praise your golden eyes
And red-bird song, and throat so white.


THE BRONCHO THAT WOULD NOT BE BROKEN


A little colt — broncho, loaned to the farm

To be broken in time without fury or harm,

Yet black crows flew past you, shouting alarm,

Calling "Beware," with lugubrious singing...

The butterflies there in the bush were romancing,

The smell of the grass caught your soul in a trance,

So why be a-fearing the spurs and the traces,

O broncho that would not be broken of dancing?


You were born with the pride of the lords great and olden

Who danced, through the ages, in corridors golden.

In all the wide farm-place the person most human.

You spoke out so plainly with squealing and capering,

With whinnying, snorting, contorting and prancing,

As you dodged your pursuers, looking askance,

With Greek-footed figures, and Parthenon paces,

O broncho that would not be broken of dancing.


The grasshoppers cheered. "Keep whirling," they said.

The insolent sparrows called from the shed

"If men will not laugh, make them wish they were dead."

But arch were your thoughts, all malice displacing,

Though the horse-killers came, with snake-whips advancing.

You bantered and cantered away your last chance.

And they scourged you, with Hell in their speech and their faces,

O broncho that would not be broken of dancing.


"Nobody cares for you," rattled the crows,

As you dragged the whole reaper, next day, down the rows.

The three mules held back, yet you danced on your toes.

You pulled like a racer, and kept the mules chasing.

You tangled the harness with bright eyes side-glancing,

While the drunk driver bled you — a pole for a lance —

And the giant mules bit at you — keeping their places.

O broncho that would not be broken of dancing.


n that last afternoon your boyish heart broke.

The hot wind came down like a sledge-hammer stroke.

The blood-sucking flies to a rare feast awoke.

And they searched out your wounds, your death-warrant tracing.

And the merciful men, their religion enhancing,

Stopped the red reaper, to give you a chance.

Then you died on the prairie, and scorned all disgraces,

O broncho that would not be broken of dancing.