Vachel Lindsay (1879-1931) was briefly famous in the 1910’s as a traveling singing poet who would chant or sing his own poetry while wandering through the United States. Yet later in life he faded into obscurity, often bartering his pamphlet “Rhymes to Be Traded for Bread” in exchange for food. Lindsay eventually commit suicide by ingesting Lysol. This setting of four poems was commissioned by Carrie Zhang and her Classical Trio Impromptu for their performances in the Bing Music Series at Stanford Hospital.
1. Unjust – video
“I am unjust, but I can strive for justice.
My life’s unkind, but I can vote for kindness.
I, the unloving, say life should be lovely.
I, that am blind, cry out against my blindness.”
2. A Sense of Humor – video
“No man should stand before the moon
To make sweet song thereon,
With dandified importance,
His sense of humor gone.
Nay, let us don the motley cap,
The jester’s chastened mien,
If we would woo that looking-glass
And see what should be seen.
O mirror on fair Heaven’s wall,
We find there what we bring.
So, let us smile in honest part
And deck our souls and sing.
Yea, by the chastened jest alone
Will ghosts and terrors pass,
And fays, or suchlike friendly things,
Throw kisses through the glass”
3. The Little Turtle – video
“There was a little turtle. He lived in a box. He swam in a puddle. He climbed on the rocks. He snapped at a mosquito. He snapped at a flea. He snapped at a minnow. And he snapped at me. He caught the mosquito. He caught the flea. He caught the minnow. But he didn’t catch me.”
4. Rain – video
“Each storm-soaked flower has a beautiful eye. And this is the voice of the stone-cold sky: ‘Only boys keep their cheeks dry. Only boys are afraid to cry. Men thank God for tears Alone with lost years.”
Score Coming Soon