Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Hart Crane

Today is the 110th birthday of poet Hart Crane, born July 21 1899. Crane was born a poet, famously writing poems from his early childhood in Garrettsville, Ohio, despite constant demands from his father that he study business in order to take over the family's candy factory. At seventeen he published his first poem about the trial and imprisonment of Oscar Wilde. Crane moved to New York City in his late teens, passionately determined to make a living from poetry, and formed uneasy friendships with such literary figures of the time as Allen Tate, Katherine Anne Porter, Eugene O'Neill and E. E. Cummings, although his heavy drinking absorbed most of his social time.

In 1930, Crane published his only major work, the book-length poem, The Bridge, which used the sights, sounds and abundant symbols of New York to present a powerfully spiritual vision of America. In an essay written in 1925, Crane wrote "I am concerned with the future of America, but not because I think that America has any so-called par value as a state or as a group of people.... It is only because I feel persuaded that here are destined to be discovered certain as yet undefined spiritual qualities, perhaps a new hierarchy of faith not to be developed so completely elsewhere. And in this process I like to feel myself as a potential factor; certainly I must speak in its terms and what discoveries I may make are situated in its experience."

Hart Crane committed suicide in 1932, at the age of thirty-three, by jumping from the deck of a steamship.

The Mango Tree

           Let them return, saying you blush again for the great
Great-gandmother. It's all like Christmas.
           When you sprouted Paradise a discard of chewing-gum
took place. Up jug to musical, hanging jug just gay spiders
yoked you first, -silking of shadows good underdrawers for
       First-plucked before and since the Flood, old hypno-
tisms wrench the golden boughs. Leaves spatter dawn from
emerals cloud-sprockets. Fat final prophets with lean ban-
dits crouch: and dusk is close
                              under your noon,
                              you Sun-heap, whose
ripe apple-lanterns gush history, recondite lightnings, irised.
                              O mister Señor
                              missus Miss
                              with baskets
                                                                  Maggy. come on

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