THE WEST-GOING HEART by Eleanor Ruggles


Email this review


In this long and readable biography the author of Prince of Players, Edwin Booth, etc. writes of one of America's most gifted and original poets, Vachel Lindsay, author of General Booth Enters Heaven, The Congo, Johnny Appleseed, and many other poems too often forgotten today. Born in 1879 in Springfield, Ill., son of a doctor and a remarkable mother, Lindsay was from youth a non-conformist; resisting formal education he left college to paint and write poetry; a moralist and ""a troubadour who walked the prairies, brother in spirit to Johnny Appleseed,"" he wandered eastward, sometimes penniless, always talking and writing, making devoted friends. He was unknown, or almost so, until 1912 when Harriet Monroe, editor of Poetry, published General Booth, following it with The Congo, which brought him fame and money he did not keep. Lecturing, reading his poems to women's clubs, which he loathed, Lindsay in 1925 married Elizabeth Connors, 20 years his junior, to whom he was devoted, but his last years were clouded with insanity and poverty; in 1931 he committed suicide. Skillfully written but too long for its subject, this book belongs in libraries, college, public and some rental, and should hold a wide appeal to biography addicts and to those who delight in Lindsay's singing cadences; students of American letters should find it valuable for its accounts of literary life in the first part of the century.

Pub Date: Nov. 10th, 1959
Publisher: Norton