The Congo is one of the best-known poems by American poet Vachel Lindsay (1879-1931). It was revolutionary in its use of sounds and rhythms — as sounds and rhythms — and includes elaborate annotations to guide its spoken performance. Lindsay categorized The Congo as “higher Vaudeville” and was famous for his exuberant performances of it. The poem’s imagery is racist, but Lindsay was a product of his time — born 14 years after the end of the American Civil War in Abraham Lincoln’s hometown, he revered Lincoln and viewed himself as a friend and supporter of African-American culture.
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