POETS Day: Vachel Lindsay

To me, Vachel Lindsay has always been the epitome of an American poet. Best known for Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight and General William Booth Enters into Heaven, which was set to music by Charles Ives, his work, according to Wikipedia, “lacked elements that encouraged the attention of academic scholarship” and he is mostly forgotten today. This bittersweet little gem illustrates perfectly what I find so appealing in his poetry (besides the fact that he wrote a poem entitled Why I Voted the Socialist Ticket).

THE TIGER ON PARADE

The Sparrow and the Robin on a toot
Drunk on honey-dew and violet’s breath
Came knocking at the brazen bars of Death.
And Death, no other than a tiger caged,
In a street parade that had no ending,
Roared at them and clawed at them and raged —
Whose chirping was the height of their offending.
His paws too big — their fluttering bodies small
Escaped unscathed above the City Hall.

They learned new dances, scattering birdy laughter,
And filled again their throats with honey-dew.
A Maltese kitten killed them, two days after.
But they had had their fill. It was enough: —
Had quarreled, made up, on many a lilac swayed,
Darted through sunny thunder-clouds and rainbows,
High above that tiger on parade.

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About Dave Trowbridge

Dave Trowbridge has been writing high-tech marketing copy for almost thirty years. This has made him an expert in what he calls “pulling stuff out of the cave of the flying monkeys,” so science fiction comes naturally. He abandoned corporate life in 2007 — actually, it abandoned him — but not before attaining the rank of Dark Lord of Documentation, a title which still appears on his business card and serves to identify clients he’d rather not work with (the ones who don’t laugh). He much prefers the godlike powers of a science fiction author (hah!) to troglodyte status in dark corporate mills, and the universe is slowly coming around to his point of view. Dave is currently laboring over the second edition of the space-opera series Exordium with his co-author Sherwood Smith, and looking forward to writing more stories in that universe. He lives in the Santa Cruz Mountains with his writer wife and fellow BVC member, Deborah J. Ross, and a tri-lingual German Shepherd Dog responsible for three cats. When not writing, Dave may be found wrangling vegetables—both domesticated and feral — in the garden.

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