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Vachel Lindsay (Nicholas Vachel Lindsay) Biography

(1879–1931), (Nicholas Vachel Lindsay), Adventures while Preaching the Gospel of Beauty, A Handy Guide for Beggars

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Lights of Bohemia to Love in Livery

American poet, born in Springfield, Illinois. After studying art in New York he began the years of vagrancy described in the prose of Adventures while Preaching the Gospel of Beauty (1914) and A Handy Guide for Beggars (1916); The Tree of Laughing Bells (1905) and Rhymes To Be Traded for Bread (1912) were among the pamphlets of verse he bartered for food and shelter. His characteristic combination of religious fervour and political liberalism became apparent in the verse of General William Booth Enters into Heaven (1913); the title piece typifies the heavily syncopated rhythms of much of his work. The Congo (1914) gained him wide notice as a radically innovative poet. He was actively involved in the resurgence of American literary culture associated with the Seven Arts. Subsequent collections of his poetry, which exhibit a gradual decline in his formerly intense imaginative energies, include The Chinese Nightingale (1917), The Golden Whales of California (1920), and Going-to-the-Sun (1923), which contained many of his unusual line drawings. His increasing eccentricity led him to retreat to Springfield in the late 1920s, where he took his life by drinking poison in the house in which he had been born. His other publications include The Art of the Motion Picture (1915), one of the earliest studies of the cinema, and The Golden Book of Springfield (1920), which envisions a utopia of social and aesthetic harmony. Dennis Camp edited The Poetry of Vachel Lindsay (two volumes, 1984). Biographical material includes Vachel Lindsay: A Poet in America (1935) by his friend Edgar Lee Masters.

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