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The Congo

The Congo by Vachel Lindsay
By: (1879-1931)

The Congo is one of the best-known poems by American poet Vachel Lindsay (1879-1931). It was revolutionary in its use of sounds and rhythms — as sounds and rhythms — and includes elaborate annotations to guide its spoken performance. Lindsay categorized The Congo as “higher Vaudeville” and was famous for his exuberant performances of it. The poem’s imagery is racist, but Lindsay was a product of his time — born 14 years after the end of the American Civil War in Abraham Lincoln’s hometown, he revered Lincoln and viewed himself as a friend and supporter of African-American culture.

First Page:


By Vachel Lindsay

[Nicholas Vachel Lindsay, Illinois Artist. 1879 1931.]

With an introduction by Harriet Monroe Editor of "Poetry"

[Notes: The 'stage directions' given in "The Congo" and those poems which are meant to be read aloud, are traditionally printed to the right side of the first line it refers to. This is possible, but impracticable, to imitate in a simple ASCII text. Therefore these 'stage directions' are given on the line BEFORE the first line they refer to, and are furthermore indented 20 spaces and enclosed by s to keep it clear to the reader which parts are text and which parts directions.]

[This electronic text was transcribed from a reprint of the original edition, which was first published in New York, in September, 1914. Due to a great deal of irregularity between titles in the table of contents and in the text of the original, there are some slight differences from the original in these matters with the more complete titles replacing cropped ones. In one case they are different enough that both are given, and "Twenty Poems in which... Continue reading book >>

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