O Sleepless as the river under thee, Vaulting the sea, the prairies' dreaming sod, Unto us lowliest sometime sweep, descend And of the curveship lend a myth to God. Arguably, the whole point of The Bridge was to connect these two Americas. Imagine coming upon a young man at night on the Brooklyn waterfront exclaiming in full voice: O harp and altar, of the fury fused, How could mere toil align thy choiring strings! Even so, Brooklyn Bridge in particular matters, over and beyond its associations for Crane with his love affair with Opffer. It reminds us also that failure and impossibility shadow the conception of his poem from the beginning, as we saw when he first mentioned The Bridge to Munson in1923. His work had been featured as the first volume with the imprint of the press Shadows of the Sun, 1928 , and his works continued to appear in considerable numbers: Transit of Venus 1928 , Mad Queen 1929 , Shadows of the Sun Series Two 1929 , Sleeping Together 1929. That so much of his work was self-published helps explain why his reputation as a poet has been so long in forming. Brooklyn Bridge: Fact and Symbol, pp.
The photo conceives the bridge as launched into space. Or maybe the point was to reunite his warring parents? He was twenty-three years old and working as a copywriter for a small advertising firm in Cleveland. Work represented in numerous anthologies, including The New Pocket Anthology of American Verse and The Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry. It is just beginning to take the least outline,—and the more outline the conception of the thing takes,—the more its final difficulties appall me. The second review is by Thomas Vogler. This July 1930 version emphasizes grandeur over pedestrian accessibility through selective cropping.
Accolade thou dost bestow Of anonymity time cannot raise: Vibrant reprieve and pardon thou dost show. After he made a scene at the Café Select in Paris, the police clubbed him, dragged him by his feet one observer saw his head bounce over the curb , and threw him into a cell, where he was whipped with a rubber hose. Brooklyn Bridge, New York, City, 1986 Hart Crane conceived of his long poem, The Bridge, in the winter of 1923. We are forever in Kahn's debt. The extreme compression of the language in such a quatrain, which collapses centuries of American history in a single sentence, is typical of Crane, and is another sort of bridge. How could Crane have not known about them? I think Crane spent more time on composing his poetry than the average poet and this dedication shows in how deeply the poem resonates.
He sent some examples of his new writing back to friends in Cleveland, Charlotte and Richard Rychtarik. As a homosexual, he was at particular risk of rejection by his lovers and his society. Is it possible that Stella is a foundational source for The Bridge a fact that Crane is surreptitiously acknowledging in 1929 by arranging to have included within the first edition a Stella painting, albeit not the painting that had been the origin of the long poem? The Bridge as it appears within them, especially if we take the photos sequentially, appears only gradually; it is an evocative piece of architecture that these photographs are able to work with; and while it eventually reveals itself as an actual thing upon which persons might actually walk, it remains hauntingly and suggestively abstract, as if it could be allied with a number of other objects as if it was also functioning as a metaphor. During his mid-teens Crane continued to read extensively, broadening his interests to include such writers as philosopher Plato, novelist Honore de Balzac, and Romantic poet. At that time, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world, an architectural and engineering marvel.
He was raised in part by his grandmother in Cleveland. He applied for a Guggenheim fellowship with intentions of studying European culture and the American poetic sensibility. In 1929, as he wrote to a friend, it was the work of Paul Strand that struck him as most impressive. Under thy shadow by the piers I waited; Only in darkness is thy shadow clear. The bridge, in turn, serves as the structure uniting, and representing, America. In followup letters of February and March, he continues to refer to the bridge in terms that are exclusively metaphorical.
Moreover, sailors in the Brooklyn Navy Yard would have used the bridge as a pathway to the South Street taverns and bars. That also matters: Crane went back to the past for his symbol of the future. In a 1972 essay on these three photos, Gordon Grigsby claimed a resemblance between them and the work of Alfred Stieglitz. When you open yourself up to this way of thinking, the outside world can become a wonderland of fantastic images and ideas. But Cranes new interest in the Brooklyn Bridge was not based on an aesthetic appreciation of it as an artifact so much as on his new association with Emil Opffer.
The Broken Tower: A Life of Hart Crane. Hart Crane is considered a pivotal even prophetic figure in American literature; he is often cast as a Romantic in the decades of high Modernism. A difficult and still controversial work, the Bridge has won an important place in American literature. To be recognized as architecture, structural stone must be carved into a familiar shape, while the steel, unburdened with precedents, could take whatever shape its function demanded. Feverishly excited and as was becoming usual a little drunk, he wrote about his idea for the poem to his friend Gorham Munson: I am too much interested in this Bridge thing lately to write letters, ads, or anything.
A few months before, in the summer of 1928, Crane had been visiting an old friend, Charmion von Wiegand Haubicht, in her summer home at Croton-on-Hudson, New York, and she had drawn his attention to a brief essay in which Stella addressed aesthetic possibilities of the Brooklyn Bridge and associated himself intimately with it. His problems mounted when his father, increasingly prosperous in the chocolate business, nonetheless threatened to withhold further funds until Crane found a job. Few contemporary artists in New York had achieved the success of Stella in actively promoting the tenets of cubism and futurism. The Bridge operates symbolically as an indicator of transcendent truth, a touchstone for American myth, and a plastic demonstration of the romantic urge Crane believes is inherent in humanity. The Bridge isnt part of the picture, we realize, because we stand on the Bridge to look down as a tugboat ferries a load of railroad hopper cars. Which brings us to the last reason you should care about this poem — it is quintessentially American.