Vachel Lindsay

(November 10, 1879 – December 5, 1931 / Springfield, Illinois)

John Brown - Poem by Vachel Lindsay

(To be sung by a leader and chorus, the leader singing
the body of the poem, while the chorus interrupts with
the question.)


I’ve been to Palestine.
WHAT DID YOU SEE IN PALESTINE?
I saw the ark of Noah—
It was made of pitch and pine.
I saw old Father Noah
Asleep beneath his vine.
I saw Shem, Ham and Japhet
Standing in a line.
I saw the tower of Babel
In the gorgeous sunrise shine—
By a weeping willow tree
Beside the Dead Sea.

I’ve been to Palestine.
WHAT DID YOU SEE IN PALESTINE?
I saw abominations
And Gadarene swine.
I saw the sinful Canaanites
Upon the shewbread dine,
And spoil the temple vessels
And drink the temple wine.
I saw Lot’s wife, a pillar of salt
Standing in the brine—
By a weeping willow tree
Beside the Dead Sea.

I’ve been to Palestine.
WHAT DID YOU SEE IN PALESTINE?
Cedars on Mount Lebanon,
Gold in Ophir’s mine,
And a wicked generation
Seeking for a sign
And Baal’s howling worshippers
Their god with leaves entwine.
And . . .
I saw the war-horse ramping
And shake his forelock fine—
By a weeping willow tree
Beside the Dead Sea.

I’ve been to Palestine.
WHAT DID YOU SEE IN PALESTINE?
Old John Brown.
Old John Brown.
I saw his gracious wife
Dressed in a homespun gown.
I saw his seven sons
Before his feet bow down.
And he marched with his seven sons,
His wagons and goods and guns,
To his campfire by the sea,
By the waves of Galilee.

I’ve been to Palestine.
WHAT DID YOU SEE IN PALESTINE?
I saw the harp and psalt’ry
Played for Old John Brown.
I heard the ram’s horn blow,
Blow for Old John Brown.
I saw the Bulls of Bashan—
They cheered for Old John Brown.
I saw the big Behemoth—
He cheered for Old John Brown.
I saw the big Leviathan—
He cheered for Old John Brown.
I saw the Angel Gabriel
Great power to him assign.
I saw him fight the Canaanites
And set God’s Israel free.
I saw him when the war was done
In his rustic chair recline—
By his campfire by the sea,
By the waves of Galilee.

I’ve been to Palestine.
WHAT DID YOU SEE IN PALESTINE?
Old John Brown.
Old John Brown.
And there he sits
To judge the world.
His hunting-dogs
At his feet are curled.
His eyes half-closed,
But John Brown sees
The ends of the earth,
The Day of Doom.
And his shot-gun lies
Across his knees—
Old John Brown,
Old John Brown.


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Poem Submitted: Saturday, April 10, 2010



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