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A Dirge For A Righteous Kitten

Author: Lindsay, Nicholas

Genre: Poetry

Year: 1879


Title:     A Dirge For A Righteous Kitten
Author: Vachel Lindsay

To be intoned, all but the two italicized lines, which are to be spoken in a snappy, matter-of-fact way.

Ding-dong, ding-dong, ding-dong.
Here lies a kitten good, who kept
A kitten's proper place.
He stole no pantry eatables,
Nor scratched the baby's face.
_He let the alley-cats alone_.
He had no yowling vice.
His shirt was always laundried well,
He freed the house of mice.
Until his death he had not caused
His little mistress tears,
He wore his ribbon prettily,
_He washed behind his ears_.
Ding-dong, ding-dong, ding-dong.

Vachel Lindsay Biography
( 1879 –1931 ), General Booth Enters Heaven and Other Poems, The Congo and Other Poems

was born in Springfield, Illinois, to religious-fundamentalist parents. He entered Hiram College in 1897 but left after three years to study art in Chicago and New York until 1905 . Fired by a desire both to preach temperance and bring verse to the masses, he tramped around the country begging, and bartering broadsides of his poems. He was part of the literary revival hailed as America's ‘poetry renaissance’ and anchored in the Midwest by Harriet Monroe's 1912 founding of Poetry magazine.

Lindsay's first book, General Booth Enters Heaven and Other Poems ( 1913 ) was a popular success, aided by its author's dramatic readings of the title-poem and of the naïvely racist titlepoem of his second collection, The Congo and Other Poems ( 1914 ). Like his lectures on ‘The Gospel of Beauty’, the public readings were sincere, evangelical attempts to elevate national taste. If his jingle-rhymed and syncopated poems were not profound, they were genuinely modern in their reformist (populist) stance, conversational ease, and readiness to experiment, scoring the Booth poem, for instance, with a revival hymn, or apeing popular music in The Daniel Jazz ( 1920 ).

Lindsay, however, was victimized by success, forced to perform the same poems repeatedly even as he lost faith in their worth. Always prey to self-doubts, he was hurt by criticisms of his third volume, The Chinese Nightingale and Other Poems ( 1917 ), and the flop of The Golden Book of Springfield ( 1920 ), prose revelations. The 1922 death of his mother led to a total, if temporary, collapse, and in 1924 he learned he was epileptic. Marriage a year later only deepened his depression. He swallowed a bottle of Lysol in a hotel room during yet another reluctant reading tour.

Lindsay's Collected Poems (New York, 1923 , revd. edn. 1925 ) remains available, as is his Johnny Appleseed and Other Poems (New York, 1981 ).

Titles in Poem Category 
"This, My Song, Is Made For Kerensky"
Above The Battle's Front
Abraham Lincoln Walks At Midnight
Aladdin And The Jinn
Alchemist's Petition, The
Alone In The Wind, On The Prairie
Amaranth, The
Angel And The Clown, The
Apology For The Bottle Volcanic, An
At Mass
Bankrupt Peace Maker, The
Beggar's Valentine, The
Beyond The Moon
Black Hawk War Of The Artists, The
Blanche Sweet, Moving-Picture Actress
Booker Washington Trilogy, The
Broncho That Would Not Be Broken, The
By The Spring, At Sunset
Caught In A Net
Chinese Nightingale: A Song In Chinese Tapestries, The
City That Will Not Repent, The
Concerning Emperors
Congo: A Study Of The Negro Race, The
Cornfields, The
Crickets On A Strike
Curse For Kings, A
Dandelion, The
Dangerous Little Boy Fairies, The
Darling Daughter Of Babylon
Dirge For A Righteous Kitten, A
Doll Upon The Topmost Bough [Rhyme For Gloriana], The
Drunkard's Funeral, The
Drunkards In The Street, The
Drying Their Wings
Eagle That Is Forgotten, The
Eden In Winter
Empty Boats, The
Encyclopaedia, The
Epilogue. Under The Blessing Of Your Psyche Wings
Epitaphs For Two Players
Explanation Of The Grasshopper, An
Factory Windows Are Always Broken
Fairy Bridal Hymn, The
Firemen's Ball, The
Flower Of Mending, The
Foreign Missions In Battle Array
Galahad, Knight Who Perished
Gamblers, The
General William Booth Enters Into Heaven
Ghosts In Love
Ghosts Of The Buffaloes, The
Haughty Snail-King, The
Heart Of God
Hearth Eternal, The
Here's To The Mice!
Honor Among Scamps
Hope Of The Resurrection [Easter Stanzas], The
How A Little Girl Danced
How A Little Girl Sang
How I Walked Alone In The Jungles Of Heaven
How Samson Bore Away The Gates Of Gaza
I Heard Immanuel Singing
I Went Down Into The Desert
Illinois Village, The
In Memory Of A Child
In Praise Of Gloriana's Remarkable Golden Hair [Rhyme For Gloriana]
In Praise Of Songs That Die
Indian Summer Day On The Prairie, An
Jingo And The Minstrel, The
King Arthur's Men Have Come Again
King Of Yellow Butterflies (A Poem Game), The
Knight In Disguise, The
Leaden-Eyed, The
Light O' The Moon, The
Lion, The
Look You, I'll Go Pray
Love And Law
Mae Marsh, Motion Picture Actress
Mark Twain And Joan Of Arc
Master Of The Dance, The
Merciful Hand, The
Moon Is A Painter, The
Moon's The North Wind's Cooky, The
Mouse That Gnawed The Oak-Tree Down, The
My Lady In Her White Silk Shawl
Mysterious Cat, The
Net To Snare The Moonlight, A
North Star Whispers To The Blacksmith's Son, The
On Reading Omar Khayyam
On Receiving One Of Gloriana's Letters [Rhyme For Gloriana]
On Suddenly Receiving A Curl Long Refused [Rhyme For Gloriana]
On The Building Of Springfield
On The Garden-Wall
On The Road To Nowhere
Once More--To Gloriana
Our Guardian Angels And Their Children
Our Mother Pocahontas
Perfect Marriage, The
Potato's Dance, The
Potatoes' Dance (A Poem Game), The
Prairie Battlements, The
Prayer To All The Dead Among Mine Own People, A
Prologue. A Sense Of Humor
Proud Farmer, The
Queen Mab In The Village
Queen Of Bubbles, The
Raft, The
Rhyme About An Electrical Advertising Sign, A
Rhymer's Reply. Incense And Splendor, The
Santa Fe Trail, The
Scissors-Grinder, The
Song Of The Garden-Toad, The
Sorceress!, The
Soul Of The City Receives The Gift Of The Holy Spirit, The
Spice-Tree, The
Spider And The Ghost Of The Fly, The
Springfield Magical
St. Francis Of Assisi
Star Of My Heart
Strength Of The Lonely, The
Sun Says His Prayers, The
Sunshine, For A Very Little Girl, Not A Year Old
Sweet Briars Of The Stairways
Sweethearts Of The Year
Tale Of The Tiger Tree, The
This Section Is A Christmas Tree
To Buddha
To Jane Addams At The Hague
To Lady Jane
To Mary Pickford, Moving-Picture Actress
To Reformers In Despair
To The United States Senate
Trap, The
Traveller-Heart, The
Tree Of Laughing Bells, Or The Wings Of The Morning, The
Two Old Crows
Unpardonable Sin, The
Upon Returning To The Country Road
Voice Of The Man Impatient With Visions And Utopias, The
We Meet At The Judgment And I Fear It Not [Easter Stanzas]
Wedding Of The Rose And The Lotos, The
What Semiramis Said
What The Coal-Heaver Said
What The Ghost Of The Gambler Said
What The Gray-Winged Fairy Said
What The Miner In The Desert Said
What The Moon Saw
What The Rattlesnake Said
When Bryan Speaks
When Gassy Thompson Struck It Rich
Where Is David, The Next King Of Israel?
Where Is The Real Non-Resistant?
Who Knows?
Why I Voted The Socialist Ticket
With A Bouquet Of Twelve Roses
Wizard In The Street, The
Written For A Musician
Yankee Doodle
Yet Gentle Will The Griffin Be

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