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Wednesday, April 30, 2014 04:20 pm

Vachel Lindsay Walks Springfield

A song by John C. Van Orman

On the last evening of National Poetry Month, I want to share with you a song authored by John C. Van Orman called “Vachel Lindsay Walks Springfield.” It is about Vachel Lindsay (pictured above, my fav photo of Vach by the way) fashioned after Lindsay’s poem “Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight” published in the 1919 book, The Congo and Other Poems.

Van Orman describes the story behind his tune: “I wrote the first two verses of this song in Springfield and Berlin, Ill., in 1975 at which time I had started, never completed, and later discarded a third verse.  I wrote the third verse as it is here around 1981 in near Larkspur, Colo., after visiting Guanella Ranch in Empire, Colo. where Lindsay had written and vacationed with his family.”



Vachel Lindsay Walks Springfield


Vachel Lindsay walks Springfield at midnight.

He goes to the Statehouse ’cause he doesn’t have the room,

That Abraham Lincoln has in the big tomb.

And he stands on the corner, and beats on his drum,

Summoning Lincoln but if Lincoln won’t come,

Then he goes to the big dome on Capitol Street,

When Lincoln is late, that’s where they meet,

The man of the ages greets the man of the hour,

Where men of mere moments parley for power.


Lincoln and Lindsay walk Springfield together,

Among tourists with Civil War flags and hats,

And Abe says to Vachel, “I can’t figure that!

They dwell on my murder and the glories of war,

And sadly ignore your own peaceful chore.”

Vachel says, “Abe, you wrote some poems, too.”

Abe says, “Yes, I wrote a few. 

But nothing like you, and it’s awkward someway

To be so revered in the land of Lindsay.”


Vachel Lindsay walks Springfield forever!

He and Will Spaulding stroll by the lakeshore

Among all the people they did it all for.

John Altgeld still stands to defend people’s rights,

That men of mere moments now steal in the night.

Carl Sandburg is singing an old-timey tune,

While Masters keeps singing his songs of the Spoon.

Together as always, they wish us all well,

The carillon laughs like a tree full of bells.


© John C. Van Orman


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