Vachel Lindsay

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

King Solomon And The Queen Of Sheba - Poem by Vachel Lindsay

(A Poem Game.)

“And when the Queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon, . . .
she came to prove him with hard questions.”


[The men’s leader rises as he sees the Queen unveiling
and approaching a position that gives her half of the stage.]

Men’s Leader: The Queen of Sheba came to see King Solomon.
[He bows three times.]
I was King Solomon,
I was King Solomon,
I was King Solomon.

[She bows three times.]
Women’s Leader: I was the Queen,
I was the Queen,
I was the Queen.

Both Leaders: We will be king and queen,
[They stand together stretching their hands over the land.]
Reigning on mountains green,
Happy and free
For ten thousand years.

[They stagger forward as though carrying a yoke together.]
Both Leaders: King Solomon he had four hundred oxen.

Congregation: We were the oxen.

[Here King and Queen pause at the footlights.]
Both Leaders: You shall feel goads no more.
[They walk backward, throwing off the yoke and rejoicing.]
Walk dreadful roads no more,
Free from your loads
For ten thousand years.

[The men’s leader goes forward, the women’s leader dances round him.]
Both Leaders: King Solomon he had four hundred sweethearts.

[Here he pauses at the footlights.]
Congregation: We were the sweethearts.

[He walks backward. Both clap their hands to the measure.]
Both Leaders: You shall dance round again,
You shall dance round again,
Cymbals shall sound again,
Cymbals shall sound again,
[The Queen appears to gather wildflowers.]
Wildflowers be found
For ten thousand years,
Wildflowers be found
For ten thousand years.

[He continues to command the congregation, the woman to dance.
He goes forward to the footlights.]
Both Leaders: And every sweetheart had four hundred swans.

Congregation: We were the swans.

[The King walks backward.]
Both Leaders: You shall spread wings again,
You shall spread wings again,
[Here a special dance, by the Queen: swans flying in circles.]
Fly in soft rings again,
Fly in soft rings again,
Swim by cool springs
For ten thousand years,
Swim by cool springs,
For ten thousand years.

[The refrain “King Solomon” may be intoned by the men’s leader
whenever it is needed to enable the women’s leader to get to
her starting point. All the refrains may be likewise used.]
Men’s Leader: King Solomon,
King Solomon.

Women’s Leader: The Queen of Sheba asked him like a lady,
[They bow to each other—then give a pantomime
indicating a great rose garden.]
Bowing most politely:
“What makes the roses bloom
Over the mossy tomb,
Driving away the gloom
Ten thousand years?”

Men’s Leader: King Solomon made answer to the lady,
[They bow and confer. The Queen reserved, but taking cognizance.
The King wooing with ornate gestures of respect, and courtly animation.]
Bowing most politely:
“They bloom forever thinking of your beauty,
Your step so queenly and your eyes so lovely.
These keep the roses fair,
Young and without a care,
Making so sweet the air,
Ten thousand years.”

[The two, with a manner almost a cake walk, go forward.]
Both Leaders: King Solomon he had four hundred sons.

[On this line, King and Queen pause before the footlights.]
Congregation: We were the sons.

[Pantomime of crowning the audience.]
Both Leaders: Crowned by the throngs again,
[On this line they walk backward, playing great imaginary harps.]
You shall make songs again,
Singing along
For ten thousand years.

[They go forward in a pony gallop, then stand pawing.]
Both Leaders: He gave each son four hundred prancing ponies.

Congregation: We were the ponies.

[They nod their heads, starting to walk backward.]
Both Leaders: You shall eat hay again,
[A pony dance by both, in circles.]
In forests play again,
Rampage and neigh
For ten thousand years.

Men’s Leader: King Solomon he asked the Queen of Sheba,
[They bow to each other, standing so that
each one commands half of the stage.]
Bowing most politely:
“What makes the oak-tree grow
Hardy in sun and snow,
Never by wind brought low
Ten thousand years?”

Women’s Leader: The Queen of Sheba answered like a lady,
[They bow to each other, again, with pantomime indicating a forest.]
Bowing most politely:
“It blooms forever thinking of your wisdom,
Your brave heart and the way you rule your kingdom.
These keep the oak secure,
Weaving its leafy lure,
Dreaming by fountains pure
Ten thousand years.”

[They go to the footlights with a sailor’s lurch and hitch.]
Both Leaders: The Queen of Sheba had four hundred sailors.

[The King and Queen pause.]
Congregation: We were the sailors.

Both Leaders: You shall bring spice and ore
[They walk backward with slow long-armed gestures
indicating the entire horizon line.]
Over the ocean’s floor,
Shipmates once more,
For ten thousand years.

Women’s Leader: The Queen of Sheba asked him like a lady,
[They bow to each other, the Queen indicating the depths of the sea.]
Bowing most politely:
“Why is the sea so deep,
What secret does it keep
While tides a-roaring leap
Ten thousand years?”

Men’s Leader: King Solomon made answer to the lady,
[They bow to each other, then confer; the Queen reserved,
but taking cognizance, the King wooing with ornate gestures
of respect and courtly admiration.]
Bowing most politely:
“My love for you is like the stormy ocean—
Too deep to understand,
Bending to your command,
Bringing your ships to land
Ten thousand years.”
King Solomon,
King Solomon.

[They go to the footlights with the greatest possible strut.]
Both Leaders: King Solomon he had four hundred chieftains.

Congregation: We were the chieftains.

[The leaders stand with arms proudly folded.]
Both Leaders: You shall be proud again,
[They walk backward haughtily, laughing on the last lines.]
Dazzle the crowd again,
Laughing aloud
For ten thousand years.

[From here on the whole production to be
much more solemn, elevated, religious.]

[The leaders go forward to the footlights carrying imaginary torches.]
Both Leaders: King Solomon he had four hundred shepherds.

[The man and woman pause at the footlights.]
Congregation: We were the shepherds.

[They wander over the stage as though looking for lost lambs,
with torches held high.]
Both Leaders: You shall have torches bright,
Watching the folds by night,
Guarding the lambs aright,
Ten thousand years.

Men’s Leader: King Solomon he asked the Queen of Sheba,
[The King kneels, and indicates the entire sky with one long slow gesture.]
Bowing most politely:
“Why are the stars so high,
There in the velvet sky,
Rolling in rivers by,
Ten thousand years?”

Women’s Leader: The Queen of Sheba answered like a lady,
[The Queen kneels opposite the King,
and gives the same gesture as she answers.]
Bowing most politely:
“They’re singing of your kingdom to the angels,
They guide your chariot with their lamps and candles,
Therefore they burn so far—
So you can drive your car
Up where the prophets are,
Ten thousand years.”

Men’s Leader: King Solomon,
King Solomon.

Both Leaders: King Solomon he kept the Sabbath holy.
[The two stand, commanding the audience.]
And spoke with tongues in prophet words so mighty
[The man and woman stamp and whirl with great noise and solemnity.]
We stamped and whirled and wept and shouted:—

Congregation Rises and Joins the Song:
. . . . “Glory.”
We were his people.

[On these two lines, man and woman stamp and whirl again,
gravely, magnificently.]
Both Leaders: You shall be wild and gay,
Green trees shall deck your way,
[On these two lines they kneel, commanding the audience.]
Sunday be every day,
Ten thousand years.

[Now they rise and bow to each other and the audience,
maintaining a certain intention of benediction.]
King Solomon,
King Solomon.


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Poem Submitted: Saturday, April 10, 2010



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