Hart Crane Books

Franklin Library Hart Crane books

Poems of Hart Crane - 100 Greatest Masterpieces of American Literature - 1979

Hart Crane biography

Hart Crane was an American poet born on July 21, 1899, in Garrettsville, Ohio. His brief but impactful life unfolded against the backdrop of the early 20th century, marked by tumultuous social and artistic changes. Crane is often associated with the modernist movement in poetry, and his work is celebrated for its complex imagery, rich symbolism, and musicality. Growing up in a tumultuous family environment, Crane exhibited a precocious talent for writing from a young age. His father, Clarence, a successful businessman, and his mother, Grace, faced financial difficulties and a troubled marriage. Despite the challenges, Crane's early exposure to literature and art fueled his creative spirit.

In 1917, at the age of 18, Crane moved to New York City, immersing himself in the vibrant cultural scene of the Harlem Renaissance and Greenwich Village. Inspired by the works of T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound, he began developing his own poetic voice. Crane's early poems, such as Emblems of Conduct and Black Tambourine, revealed his fascination with myth, religion, and the complexities of the human experience. One of Crane's most significant works is his epic poem, The Bridge, published in 1930. This ambitious piece, spanning 57 pages, explores the history and promise of America, blending personal and national themes. The poem received mixed reviews upon its release, but it has since gained recognition as a masterpiece of American modernist poetry.

Despite his literary achievements, Crane's personal life was marked by turmoil. Struggling with his sexuality and haunted by financial difficulties, he faced challenges in his relationships and career. His passionate but tumultuous affair with Emil Opffer, a Danish sailor, added to the emotional turbulence in his life. Tragically, Hart Crane's life was cut short at the age of 32. In April 1932, he jumped from the deck of the USS Orizaba into the Gulf of Mexico while en route from Mexico to New York. His death marked the end of a promising literary career and left behind a body of work that continues to be studied and appreciated for its innovation and depth. Crane's legacy endures as a testament to the complexities of artistic expression and the challenges faced by those who seek to navigate the intersection of personal and creative identity.

The Bridge

The Bridge is Hart Crane's most significant and celebrated work, a long poem that stands as a cornerstone of American modernist poetry. Published in 1930, the poem is a complex and ambitious exploration of American history, identity, and the human experience. It consists of 15 sections and is known for its intricate symbolism, vivid imagery, and musicality. One of the central themes of The Bridge is the idea of America as a bridge between the Old World and the New, as well as a bridge between the past and the present. Crane drew inspiration from the Brooklyn Bridge, which serves as both a physical structure and a powerful metaphor in the poem. The bridge becomes a symbol of connection, progress, and the human spirit's capacity to transcend obstacles. The poem is often seen as an attempt to capture the essence of America and its cultural, social, and historical evolution. Crane weaves together diverse elements, drawing on mythology, biblical imagery, and references to historical figures. The result is a rich tapestry that reflects the complexities of the American experience.

Each section of The Bridge explores different aspects of American life, from the Native American past to the modern urban landscape. Crane's language is highly stylized, and his use of symbolism can be challenging, requiring readers to engage deeply with the text to unravel its layers of meaning. Despite its initial mixed reception, The Bridge has gained recognition as a masterpiece over time. It has been praised for its innovation, lyricism, and the boldness of its vision. The poem has influenced subsequent generations of poets and remains an important work in the canon of American literature. Hart Crane's tragic personal life, marked by struggles with his sexuality, financial difficulties, and emotional turmoil, adds a layer of poignancy to his exploration of identity and connection in The Bridge. His untimely death in 1932, just two years after the poem's publication, left a lasting impact on the perception of his work and legacy. The Bridge continues to be studied and celebrated for its contribution to the evolution of modernist poetry and its enduring exploration of the American experience.

The Broken Tower

The Broken Tower is one of Hart Crane's most well-known poems, and it is often considered a pivotal work in American modernist poetry. The poem was written in 1932, the same year of Crane's untimely death, and was published posthumously. The Broken Tower is a poignant reflection on the challenges and conflicts that marked Crane's life, both personally and artistically. The poem is notable for its intense emotional and symbolic content. It begins with a vivid image of a tower, representing the poet himself and his creative endeavors. The tower is described as "a midnight figure of the giant heiress," suggesting a powerful and enigmatic presence. However, as the poem unfolds, it becomes clear that this tower is broken, fragmented, and in a state of disrepair.

The broken tower serves as a powerful metaphor for Crane's own struggles – with his sexuality, his relationships, and the complexities of his artistic vision. The poem delves into the tension between creative ambition and the harsh realities of life. Crane grapples with the challenges of expressing his innermost thoughts and desires through poetry, confronting the limitations and inadequacies of language and artistic form. The imagery in The Broken Tower is rich and complex, incorporating elements of myth, religion, and personal symbolism. Crane draws on various cultural and literary references to convey the depth of his emotions and the complexity of his inner world. The final lines of the poem are particularly poignant, expressing a sense of resignation and acceptance of the limitations inherent in the human experience. The broken tower becomes a symbol of both vulnerability and resilience, embodying the contradictions inherent in the pursuit of artistic expression.

The Broken Tower is a testament to Hart Crane's ability to merge personal experience with broader themes of human existence. His poetic language and intricate symbolism contribute to the enduring impact of this work, making it a significant piece in the landscape of 20th-century American poetry.

White Buildings

White Buildings is a collection of poems by Hart Crane, published in 1926. It was Crane's debut work and marked the beginning of his career as a significant figure in American modernist poetry. The collection consists of 22 poems, showcasing Crane's distinctive style and thematic concerns. In White Buildings, Crane explores a range of themes, including love, desire, the urban experience, and the complexities of modern life. The title poem, White Buildings, is particularly notable for its evocative imagery and emotional intensity. The collection as a whole reflects Crane's fascination with symbolism, myth, and the interplay between the personal and the universal. Crane's poems in White Buildings exhibit a lyrical and musical quality, drawing on his background in music and his admiration for the works of T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound. The influence of these modernist poets is evident in Crane's experimentation with form, language, and the use of symbolism.

One of the notable poems in the collection is For the Marriage of Faustus and Helen, where Crane explores the theme of desire through the lens of the Faustian legend. The poem delves into the tension between artistic aspirations and earthly longings, a theme that resonates throughout Crane's body of work. While White Buildings did not receive widespread attention upon its initial publication, it laid the foundation for Crane's later, more ambitious work, such as The Bridge. The collection, with its nuanced exploration of the human condition, relationships, and the modern world, provides insight into Crane's evolving poetic vision. Hart Crane's ability to blend intricate symbolism with emotional depth is showcased in White Buildings, making it an essential work for those interested in the development of American modernist poetry and the early career of this influential poet.


Hart Crane's poem Voyages is a notable work that reflects the poet's complex relationship with love, desire, and the sea. It is part of Crane's collection The Bridge, published in 1930, and stands as a vivid expression of his modernist sensibilities. In Voyages, Crane employs rich and evocative imagery to explore themes of longing, romantic yearning, and the transformative power of love. The poem is structured as a series of vignettes, each capturing a moment or a facet of the overarching theme.

The sea is a recurring motif in Voyages, symbolizing both the vastness of human experience and the tumultuous nature of emotions. Crane draws on the imagery of ships and voyages to convey the sense of a journey, both physical and emotional. The sea becomes a metaphor for the complexities of love, desire, and the human soul's quest for connection. The language in Voyages is lush and musical, reflecting Crane's background in music and his admiration for the modernist literary style. The poem is known for its intricate wordplay, as well as its use of symbolism and allusion. Like much of Crane's work, Voyages demands careful attention from readers to unravel its layers of meaning and appreciate its poetic depth.

The poem also touches on Crane's personal struggles, including his exploration of his own sexuality. The imagery of voyages and the sea can be seen as a metaphor for the poet's own internal and external journeys. Voyages contributes to the larger thematic tapestry of The Bridge, in which Crane seeks to encapsulate the essence of America and its cultural, historical, and personal dimensions. The poem, with its exploration of love and the human spirit, remains a significant and enduring piece within the context of American modernist poetry.

At Melville's Tomb

At Melville's Tomb" is a poignant and contemplative work that pays homage to the American author Herman Melville, best known for his masterpiece, Moby-Dick. Published posthumously in 1936, At Melville's Tomb reflects Crane's admiration for Melville's literary contributions and explores themes of mortality, artistic legacy, and the enduring power of literature. The poem opens with an evocative description of Melville's tomb, which is located in Woodlawn Cemetery in The Bronx, New York. Crane describes the tomb as "a fossil sea where a white-face gull / floats on air like a snowflake." This imagery sets the tone for the poem's exploration of the intersection between the natural world, the literary legacy, and the passage of time.

Throughout the poem, Crane grapples with the idea of artistic immortality. He contemplates the lasting impact of Melville's work and how it transcends the boundaries of time and death. The gull, described as "frozen into a fossil sea," becomes a symbol of enduring beauty and inspiration. Crane seems to suggest that Melville's words, like the gull, remain suspended in the air, perpetually influencing and inspiring generations to come. The poem also reflects Crane's own struggles with identity, mortality, and the challenges of being an artist. As he contemplates Melville's tomb, he is confronted with the inevitability of death and the desire for a lasting artistic legacy.

Crane's language in At Melville's Tomb is dense and rich in symbolism, requiring careful consideration to unravel its layers of meaning. The poem is a testament to Crane's modernist sensibilities, with its complex imagery and introspective exploration of the relationship between the artist and the eternal. In its reflection on Melville's tomb, the poem becomes a meditation on the enduring power of literature and the profound impact that great works of art can have on subsequent generations. At Melville's Tomb stands as a tribute not only to Herman Melville but also to the timeless resonance of literary creation.


Best books in order by author list:

A    B    C    D    E    F    G    H    I    J    K    L    M    N    O    P    Q    R    S    T    U    V    W    X    Y    Z

Privacy Policy        |        Terms and Disclosure        |        Contact        |        About        |        Best Book Categories        |        Framed Tributes

© 2002 - 2024 Leather Bound Treasure