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Hart Crane

Page history last edited by Fletcher Summa 6 years, 5 months ago

Hart Crane


Hart Crane was a very influential poet from the early twentieth century. The Bridge was his most famous work.


Biographical Sketch


Harold Hart Crane was born on July 21, 1899, in Garrettsville, Ohio. Hart never finished school, he left during high school. After his parents divorced, he moved to New York convincing his parents that he would start his college education there. Between the years 1917 and 1924, Hart was constantly moving between New York and Cleveland. While in those cities he took many writing jobs which included being a reporter, a copywriter and a worker in his father's candy factory. Throughout Crane's life, he always had low self-esteem and was an alcoholic. In 1924, he met Emil Opffer and began a romantic relationship with him. He wrote many poems about him. Crane's most famous work The Bridge took many years for Crane to compose. After his split to Opffer, Crane traveled to England to continue his work on The Bridge. In 1930 The Bridge was published. During the year of 1931 Crane traveled to Mexico with a female companion, Peggy Baird, the former wife of one of his friends.  On April 27, 1932 Hart Crane dropped off a boat and drowned in the Gulf of Mexico.[1]




      In the early 1920s, only a small magazine published some of Crane's poems. White Buildings was published in 1926, it contained the poems: For the Marriage of Faustus and Helen and Voyages. Voyages was written while he was with Emil Opffer while For the Marriage of Faustus and Helen was a struggle between despair and modernity. While living with Emil, Crane got a great of view of Brooklyn. With the help of that views his epic poem The Bridge was created in 1930. The Bridge was written to counter the work The Wasteland by T.S. Eliot by providing a myth of hope (as opposed to Eliot's pessimistic message). In The Bridge the Brooklyn Bridge was central point of the poem, and served as a metaphor for the kind of optimism Crane wanted to invoke. With the help of philanthropist Otto H. Kahn, Crane was able to finish his long poem. Crane left for Paris in 1929 after his split with Opffer. While in Paris, Harry Crosby and his wife offered Crane their country retreat in hopes of him finishing his epic. Crosby owned a press called the Black Sun Press. At the retreat, Crane was able to write out a draft for one of the parts of his epic called Cape Hatteras. Crane finally finished The Bridge when he returned to the United States. His consummation of alcohol increased towards the end of the creation his epic. As his drinking increased his self-worth decreased due to the poor reviews of his epic. [2] After this period, Crane's alcoholism grew worse. After he finished "The Broken Tower," his last major poem, Crane felt that he was unable to write anymore great poetry. 


Literacy Influence


Waldo Frank was a novelist and critic. Frank introduced Crane to J. Walker Thompson Advertising Company. [3] Some of Crane's major influences came from his grandmother's library. Those influences included Robert Browning, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Walt Whitman. Whitman and Emerson were major influences on Crane's poetry. His influences also went to as far as the philosopher Plato, the novelist Honore de Balzac and Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. He read about symbolist Charles Baudelaire, William Butler Yeats and James Joyce. The magazines The Seven Arts and Little Review were also an influence in Crane's work. [4]




Crane believed in the American romanticism. [4] American Romanticism was also called American Renaissance. It held a sense of flowing due to the excitement over human possibilities and a high regard for individual ego. [5]


Thematic Concerns


Many of Hart's poems held modernist view in them. Modernist poetry is very difficult, highly stylized, and ambitious in its scope. His major poem the Bridge contained "a mystical synthesis of America." Most of his poem also have a "logic of metaphors".[2]


List of Works


At Melville's Tomb

Carmen De Boheme




To Emily Dickinson

White Buildings

-For the Marriage of Faustus and Helen


The Bridge




"It has taken a great deal of energy, which has not been so difficult to summon as the necessary patience to wait, simply wait much of the time - until my instincts assured me that I had assembled my materials in proper order for a final welding into their natural form" - Hart Crane [6]


"The form of my poem rises out of a past that so overwhelms the present with its worth and vision that I'm at a loss to explain my delusion that there exist any real links between that past and a future worthy of it." - Hart Crane [7]


"… [A]s a poet, I may very possibly be more interested in the so-called illogical impingements of the connotations of words on the consciousness (and their combinations and interplay in metaphor on this basis) than I am interested in the preservation of their logically rigid significations at the cost of limiting my subject matter and the perceptions involved in the poem." -Hart Crane on his "Logic of Metaphor," or his beliefs on how a poem should work and what a poet should be allowed to do. [8]




Some critics such as, Yvor Winter, held Crane as a poetic genius As did Tennessee Williams who wanted to be 'given back to the sea' at the 'point nearly determined at the point at which Hart Crane gave himself back". Williams's last play was based of the relationship of Crane and his mother. Thomas Lux even states "If the devil came to me and said 'Tom, you can be dead and Hart can be alive,' I'd take the deal in a heartbeat if the devil promised, when arisen, Hart would have to go straight into A.A." While others praised Crane for his work some responded that his work was too difficult to understand. It was hard for Crane to get some of his poems printed due to the fact that his poetry was hard to comprehend. As Harriet Monroe said in refusal to print his At Melville’s Tomb, "You find me testing metaphors, and poetic concept in general, too much by logic, whereas I find you pushing logic to the limit in a painfully intellectual search for emotion, for poetic motive." [2]


More Readings





Works Cited

[1] "Hart Crane Biographical Sketch." Hart Crane Biographical Sketch. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Feb. 2014. <http://www.english.illinois.edu/maps/poets/a_f/crane/bio.htm>

[2] The Biography of Harold Hart Crane. "The Biography of Harold Hart Crane." Poemhunter.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Feb. 2014. . <http://www.poemhunter.com/harold-hart-crane/biography>

[3] Pain, Stephen. "Hart Crane Biography." Hart Crane Biography. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Feb. 2014. <http://www.famouspoetsandpoems.com/poets/hart_crane/biography>

[4] "Hart Crane." : The Poetry Foundation. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Feb. 2014. <http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/hart-crane>

[5]  Woodlief, Ann. "American Romanticism (or the American Renaissance)." Security Alert:. About.com, 18 Aug. 2001. Web. 07 Feb. 2014. <http://classiclit.about.com/gi/o.htm?zi=1/XJ&zTi=1&sdn=classiclit&cdn=education&tm=583&f=11&tt=14&bt=1&bts=1&zu=http%3A//www.vcu.edu/engweb/eng372/intro.htm>

[6] "Hart Crane Quotes." Hart Crane Quotes. N.p., 2006. Web. 07 Feb. 2014. <http://www.famouspoetsandpoems.com/poets/hart_crane/quotes>

[7] "Hart Crane Quotes." BrainyQuote. Xplore, 2001. Web. 07 Feb. 2014. <http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/h/hart_crane.html>

[8] "Crane's 'Logic of Metaphor.'" Modern American Poetry. U of Illinois, n.d. Web. 
     5 Apr. 2015. <http://www.english.illinois.edu/maps/poets/a_f/crane/ 

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