Sunday, May 9, 2010

Vachel Lindsay's Gospel of Beauty


The things most worth while are one's own hearth and neighborhood. We should make our own home and neighborhood the most democratic, the most beautiful and the holiest in the world. The children now growing up should become devout gardeners or architects or park architects or teachers of dancing in the Greek spirit or musicians or novelists or poets or story-tellers or craftsmen or wood-carvers or dramatists or actors or singers. They should find their talent and nurse it industriously... They should, if led by the spirit, wander over the whole nation in search of the secret of democratic beauty... Then they should come back to their own hearth and neighborhood and gather a little circle of their own sort of workers about them and strive to make the neighborhood and home more beautiful and democratic and holy with their special art. . . . They should labor in their little circle expecting neither reward nor honors. . . . In their darkest hours they should be made strong by the vision of a completely beautiful neighborhood and the passion for a completely democratic art.

During his lifetime, Vachel Lindsay embarked on several walking tours of America in which he exchanged poetry for food and accommodation, distributing his pamphlets to the rich and poor. He was a renowned entertainer, eccentric and one of America's most famous poets. Written in 1912, Lindsay's Gospel of Beauty is a dream for a new localism that is increasingly relevant and exciting in a world where localism can transcend physical neighborhoods.

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