HART CRANE'S "MYSTICAL-EMPIRICAL" POETRY AND ITS RELATION TO NINETEENTH CENTURY TRADITIONS by RONALD A. BONHAM M.A., University of Manitoba, 1967 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY i n the Department of English We accept t h i s thesis as conforming to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA December, 1975 (c) Ronald A. Bonham In p r e s e n t i n g t h i s t h e s i s in p a r t i a l f u l f i l m e n t o f the r e q u i r e m e n t s f o r an advanced degree at the U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a , I ag ree that the L i b r a r y s h a l l make i t f r e e l y a v a i l a b l e f o r r e f e r e n c e and s t u d y . I f u r t h e r agree t h a t p e r m i s s i o n f o r e x t e n s i v e c o p y i n g o f t h i s t h e s i s f o r s c h o l a r l y p u r p o s e s may be g r a n t e d by the Head o f my Department o r by h i s r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s . It i s u n d e r s t o o d tha t c o p y i n g o r p u b l i c a t i o n o f t h i s t h e s i s f o r f i n a n c i a l g a i n s h a l l not be a l l o w e d w i t h o u t my w r i t t e n p e r m i s s i o n . Department o f The U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h Co lumbia 2075 Wesbrook Place Vancouver, Canada V6T 1W5 ABSTRACT This dissertation defines and analyzes a conflict which is present in a l l of Crane's poetry. The conflict i s based on the opposition between two outlooks which are called mystical and empiri- cal. Because both of these outlooks were central to Crane's vision, their apparent deep opposition troubled him. Crane's personal ten-sions both in his early private l i f e and in his sensibility are impor-tant considerations in understanding this conflict. However, since he tried to discover a balance in l i f e through his poetry, his art rather than his l i f e i s the central focus of this study. Crane turned to the literature of three Nineteenth Century traditions—Romanticism, Transcendentalism and American Symbolism—for his solution. In the works of these traditions, he found the same troubled conflict and the search for a solution in a unified state-ment. Consequently, he examined their art closely and was greatly influenced by i t . At times, this influence appears to be an uncon-scious absorption of principles or techniques; at others, i t is expressed in obvious, conscious imitation. Crane's a b i l i t y or inabi-l i t y to incorporate the work of these earlier traditions i s closely related to the success or failure of his own vision. His life-long relationship with these traditions i s , therefore, the central energy behind his work. It is this relationship which i s the concern of this dissertation. i i Chapter 1 defines the terms "mystical" and " e m p i r i c a l " as they are applied to Crane's a r t . I t also provides a b r i e f overview of Crane's poetry and l e t t e r s i n order to demonstrate how the tensions represented by the two terms are developed throughout a l l of h i s work. Chapters 2 to 5 deal with Crane's r e l a t i o n s h i p to English Roman-tic i s m . Crane's e a r l i e s t work i s found to be an i m i t a t i o n of the a n t i - " e m p i r i c a l " l i t e r a t u r e of the f i n de s i e c l e . His maturer work i s then studied i n r e l a t i o n to the poetry of the High Romantics—Words-worth, Coleridge, Shelley, Keats and Blake. The works of these poets are compared to Crane's both through analyses of i n d i v i d u a l poems and through studies of themes and poetic techniques. Chapters 6 and 7 explore Crane's debt to American Transcenden-talism. The "mystical"-directed ideas and works of Emerson and Whitman are explored i n r e l a t i o n to Crane's poetry and p o e t i c . Inher-ent contradictions i n the works of the two Transcendentalist f i g u r e s appear again i n Crane's. Chapters 8 to 10 deal with the American Symbolists—Poe, D i c k i n -son and M e l v i l l e . Crane found that these writers d i f f e r e d from the American Transcendentalists, mainly because of t h e i r d i s t r u s t of a completely optimistic-minded outlook. The r e l a t i o n s h i p of Crane's work to t h e i r s demonstrates h i s share i n t h i s d i s t r u s t . Chapter 11 i s the conclusion. I t summarizes Crane's r e l a t i o n s h i p to the three Nineteenth Century t r a d i t i o n s , as a d i f f i c u l t and uneven, but courageous, attempt to renew poetic f a i t h i n the Twentieth Century. i i i TABLE OF CONTENTS Page I. INTRODUCTION: THE SEER AND THE SEEN, CRANE'S EMPIRICAL AND MYSTICAL DUALISM 1 II . CRANE AND FIN DE SIECLE 30 II I . HART CRANE AND HIGH ROMANTICISM: WORDSWORTH AND COLERIDGE 52 IV. CRANE AND HIGH ROMANTICISM: SHELLEY AND KEATS 82 V. HART CRANE AND HIGH ROMANTICISM: BLAKE 119 VI. HART CRANE AND AMERICAN TRANSCENDENTALISM: EMERSON . . . 146 VII. HART CRANE AND AMERICAN TRANSCENDENTALISM: WHITMAN . . . 178 VIII. HART CRANE AND THE "OTHER AMERICANS": POE 215 IX. HART CRANE AND THE "OTHER AMERICANS": DICKINSON 251 X. HART CRANE AND THE "OTHER AMERICANS": MELVILLE 286 XI. CONCLUSION 327 BIBLIOGRAPHY OF WORKS CONSULTED 336 iv To my friends, especially to Ingrid, who provided me with more assistance and support than I can ever hope to acknowledge here and, of course, to Kitty. V 1 CHAPTER I i-INTRODUCTION: THE SEER AND THE SEEN, CRANE'S EMPIRICAL AND MYSTICAL DUALISM. Did one look at what one saw Or did one see what one looked at? » ("Hieroglyphic") Hart Crane's poetry and poetic manifest a deep-felt relation to the mainstreams of nineteenth century English and American literature. This relationship stems from the poet's attempt to explore and, even-tually, to resolve a dichotomy which posed his "mystical" and "empiri-cal" outlooks as separate and antagonistic forces. Crane found presen-tations of this essential conflict i n the works of four literary 2 v groups: the English f i n de siecle writers, the High Romantics, the American Transcendentalists, and the American Symbolists, Poe, Dickin-son, and Melville. He saw that these artists were concerned either with arriving at some way of harmonizing these two outlooks, or with 3 accepting them as the uncompromising "vortices" of man's predicament. Since Crane's career was largely that of an apprentice poet, attempting to reach some understanding of this dichotomy, his imita-tion and study of other poets are hardly unexpected. More importantly, however, he turned to the nineteenth century artists because he was attempting to locate some foundation which would support his vision of cosmic unity. In fact, much of his prophetic "epic", The Bridge, is concerned with consciously organizing the works of his predecessors 4 into a tradition or collective "faith". The poems that were composed before and after The Bridge also reflect considerable, although at 2 times less obvious, a f f i n i t i e s with the writers of the previous cen-tury. Crane's responses to his predecessors were not, of course, equal or constant. In fact, the course of Crane's change in allegiance from the English Romantics through to the Symbolists roughly reflects the chronological development of his poetry and poetic. It also suggests the pattern of his movement from a "mystical" outlook to a balanced relationship between the "empirical" and the "mystical", to an "anti-empirical" outlook. Consequently, a careful analysis of Crane's relationship with the works of the preceding century i s essential to an understanding of the shape and direction of his outlook. Such a study could scarcely be handled by a mere intertextual analysis or a l i s t i n g of influences, however, for three reasons: (1) Crane did not always represent the artists accurately. He either misunderstood or refused to accept their visions as they presented them. Often, instead of taking on their voices, he obliged them to take on his. (2) Crane's changing relation to these artists also changed his con-ception of their relation to his work. (3) Because of his urge to achieve a unity of vision, he often wil-f u l l y overlooked contradictions between the outlooks of the various artists , or within the works of any one of them. At times, the drive for a harmonic vision forced him to repudiate the existence of his empirical nature. 3 Subsequent chapters w i l l attempt to analyse Crane *s relationship to the four movements mentioned above. The remainder of this chapter presents a more thorough definition of the nature and scope of Crane's dual outlook. I. "Mystical" and "Empirical": a Question of Terminology Since Crane never reached a f u l l understanding of the tension that existed i n his art, and since his attitude towards i t was frequently coloured by his own intuitive and nervous temperament, no really adequate terms can be found to give i t accurate definition. The words "mystical" and "empirical" are used here to designate the polarities of this tension since they have a close relation to the poet's own understanding of his art. The word "mystical" i s not an alien one to apply to Crane's work. The poet figure in his f i r s t extant poem, "The Moth That God Made B l i n d " , i s identified by the "mystical sign" which indicates the special nature of his role among the rest of his fellow beings. Crane . also used i t as a leading term in his definition of The Bridge as a "mystical synthesis of 'America'" (Letters, p. 124). Several of his c r i t i c s also employed i t as a key word to describe the nature and direction of his writing. Waldo Frank, one of Crane's personal l i t e r -ary friends, found that the reason for the poet's eventual loss of creativity was his failure to preserve his own belief in the authen-t i c i t y of the mystic's role. According to Frank, "the mystic is a man who knows by immediate experience the organic continuity between his self and the cosmos".7 This was a continuity which Crane desired with a l l his being. Amos Wilder sees Crane as "a mystic and in some sense a pan-theist". He approaches the poet as a "religious" figure whose "work 9 betrays a search after the absolute". His terminology appears some-what vague and inconclusive, however, because he does not define his terms with any amount of precision. In his book, Studies in Structure, 1 0 Robert J. Andreach states that Crane, Joyce, Elio t and Hopkins are "not mystical poets; a desig-nation which a l l too frequently means almost anything to anyone"."''''' Andreach is wary of using such a term too loosely: Since the experience of the mystic is the unitive way of infused contemplation, or the experimental perception of God's presence in the soul, which sets him off from other men, i t is imperative that we recognize that the state of ^ infused contemplation is not presented in their works. . '. 13 Nevertheless, he does not deny that the "words mystic and mystical" have been applied to Crane's works; nor does he altogether refuse to use them himself: ". . . his poetry is mystical in the popular sense in that i t contains a suspension of the rational faculties, a heighten-ing of perception, and a suspension of the experience of time and s p a c e . . A n d r e a c h qualifies his discussion by suggesting that his use of the word "mysticism" w i l l "mean always Crane's sense of 15 mysticism". This outlook presents problems, however. How can a definition be based on something not yet defined? Furthermore, Andreach has turned the discussion from "mystical" and "mystic" to "mysticism". The latter term refers to a totally different subject, since i t applies not to a quality or propensity, but to an organized 5 systematic view-point: something which Crane never claimed to have, and which should therefore never be looked for i n his work. Although Andreach's qualification of the term "mystic" is j u s t i f i e d , i t should be grounded on the influence of the impure nature of poetic quests for transcendence and on the "empirical" nature of Crane's sensibility, not on a refusal to label the poet ji mystic, a subject which has l i t t l e relevance here. The central problem of Crane's pursuit of a unitive poetry of organic continuity originated in the antagonistic nature of the empi-r i c a l world which Frank describes as a "jungle of machines and disinte-16 grating values". The word "empirical" may not have appeared in Crane's work, but i t i s not an entirely new term to apply to Crane criticism. Michael Hamburger''"7 has used i t to diagnose a s t y l i s t i c incoherence i n the poet's work. For Hamburger, this unresolved alter-nation was based on a conflict between Crane's allegiance to "empiri-18 cism and the imagination". According to the "empirical" outlook, the only reality i s that which comes to man via the powers of sense perception. Nothing exists anywhere in man's experience, even in his mental reaches, which is not f i r s t based on sense experience. The world which man discovers in this way must be a fragmented, aggregative one, since the senses are not immediately experiencing anything in a complete and undetermined way, but are dependent on their various data to resolve themselves into a proximate harmony. According to the empirical view, reality i s outward and s t r i c t l y phenomenal. Man's share in such a world i s 6 limited to the nature of his response to i t . He can. never say whether i t i s , i n fact, different from or other than the world he uncovers through his senses. The soundness of such an outlook resides in the irrefutable concretion and pla u s i b i l i t y of i t s "real" world, provided that one overlooks the questionable nature of sense experience as verifiable and constant and is satisfied with an indirect perception of an order that i s extra-mental. From such a viewpoint, the f i n i t e conditional world possesses a degree of substance and accuracy, but only within a framework determined by perception. The "mystical" outlook i s based on man's belief i n a power of coalescence which unites the self and the universe i n a single harmony. This power transcends ah:-.oblique and conditional, empirically-based view. It abrogates the controls of a l l relational or mediating factors in the discovery of reality. If such factors have any meaning at a l l , they serve only as signs of a hidden, immanent world. The pursuit of a noumenal outlook renders everything in human nature meaningful only as a part of an undifferentiated design that i s whole and unanalyzable. Any viewpoint which i s grounded on the location of reality has no function here. It i s neither "inner" nor "outer", neither "up" nor "down". Nor is there any purpose to stating that reality i s of the mind of. outside of i t . A l l distinctions are erased, including the major one of the " I " and the "non-I". In her book, Mysticism: A Study i n the Nature and Development of Man's Spiritual Consciousness, 1 9 Evelyn Underhill defines the "mystical" experience as "non-individualistic": It implies, indeed, the abolition of individuality, of that hard separateness, that 'I, Me, Mine 1, which makes of man a f i n i t e isolated thing. It is essentially a movement of the heart, seeking to transcend the limitations of the individual standpoint and to surrender i t s e l f to ultimate Reality; for no personal gain, to satisfy no transcendental curiosity, to obtain no other-worldly joys, but purely from an instinct of l o v e . 2 0 Such a view has a strong immediacy and absoluteness. Unconditioned by any structure or order, the mystical self finds the world because i t ±s_ the world. On the other hand, modern man has a d i f f i c u l t time being sympathetic to this outlook, since he i s a product of the individualistic and self-determining outlook of the Western Weltanschauung. For this reason, his outlook does not allow him to disappear so completely into a concordant generality which effaces the central authenticity of the self as an independent phenomenal being. Crane's art could hardly have grown out of an outlook that was as directly philosophical and abstract as the purely "empirical" or as non-rational and a l t r u i s t i c as the purely "mystical". His belief i n the common-sense world of sense experience was rooted i n his social and cultural heritage of mid-Western pioneer commercialism. In 1919, after being pressed for some time into a Christian Science frame of mind, he found himself forced to abandon that faith because of i t s "total denial of the animal and organic world" (Letters, p. 16). His acceptance of the "empirical" as the basis or raw material of his "mystical" exper-ience was something that he found d i f f i c u l t to deny. He realized, as he stated to his friend, Munson, that his poetry would "lose i t s impact and become simply categorical" i f he denied "the more direct terms of physical-psychic experience" (Letters, p. 239). Crane f e l t the need 8 for a reality that was common and a part of the external world to support his vision. The absence of the agreement between the substance of the external world and the order of the subjective consciousness of the poet is what troubled him so much in the late days of composition of The Bridge: These 'materials' were valid to me to the extent that I presumed them to be (articulate or not) at least organic and active factors in the experience and perceptions of our common race, time and belief. . . . The symbols of reality necessary to articulate this span—may not exist where you expected them, however. By which I mean that however great their subjective significance to me i s concerned—these '• forms, materials, dynamics are simply non-existent in the world. I may amuse and delight and f l a t t e r myself as much as I please—but I am only evading a recognition and playing Don Quixote in an immorally conscious way. (Letters, p. 261) Crane's image of the a r t i s t who "more and more licks his own vomit, mistaking i t for the common diet" (Letters, p. 259) demonstrates his distrust of an art that did not f i r s t absorb the "empirical" before pursuing any new directions beyond i t . Possibly Crane's dilemma would not have been so great i f his only task had been the rejection of his heritage and his past. Indeed, part of his poetry does seem to put the blame on these sources for hampering the "mystical" progress of his art. The situation is a much more complicated one, however. The main problem stems rather from the nature of Crane's and, indeed, of a l l a r t i s t i c pursuits. Although Crane believed these pursuits to be means of exploring his mystical nature, the empirical aspect, not only of his age but of art i t s e l f , proved a constant opposing force. The rationale of the balance and imbalance in Crane's art can be traced to the very nature of poetic 9 p r a c t i c e , which, i f m y s t i c a l l y directed at a l l , i s oriented toward an impure ver s i o n of t h i s outlook. When Denis Saurat stated i n h i s book, L i t e r a t u r e and Occult T r a d i t i o n , that he preferred the term " v i s i o n a r y " over "mystical" f o r the poetry that works an " a l l i a n c e of reason, 21 i n t u i t i o n and myth", he was explaining the course of Crane's w r i t i n g as w e l l as i t s deviation from U n d e r b i l l ' s d e f i n i t i o n of the purely mystical outlook. For Saurat, the poet could not be "mystical" since "the pride which i s c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of our poets i s quite incompatible with the abdication of per s o n a l i t y , the incorporation of God, which i s 22 perhaps the most per s i s t e n t feature of mysticism". Louis Dembo also q u a l i f i e s the mystical nature of a r t by speaking of "aesthetic mysti-cism" as a s p e c i a l outlook which pursued "a new word and a new v i s i o n 23 i n i t s e l f " . He shows how t h i s outlook r e l a t e s to the Imagist p r a c t i c e : The i m p l i c a t i o n i s that the image i s not simply a v e h i c l e fo r t r a n s c r i b i n g a sensation but represents part of the sensation i t s e l f — o r , b e t t e r , i t i s an i d e a l i z e d recrea-t i o n , a 'new v i s i o n ' , which has come to be a t h i n g - i n -i t s e l f , 2 4 Crane's awareness of the f u l l "mystical" p o t e n t i a l of h i s verse depen-ded on the "coadunating" powers of h i s a r t i s t i c outlook. In achieving a continuity between h i s s e l f and the et e r n a l cosmos, attained at the "m y s t i c a l - s e n s a t i o n a l i s t i c moment, the moment of ivr e s s e " , the a r t i s t must remain aware of h i s double a l l e g i a n c e . Dembo i n s i s t s on t h i s point when he quotes Richard Aldington's remark on the "sense of reve-rence", a sense which i s the o r i g i n of "mystic-aesthetic" pursuit: 10 By 'reverence' I understand no false or affected humility, but an intimate and spontaneous conviction that what i s not me, what is outside me, i s far greater and more interesting than I am, although the only account I can give of i t is how i t appears to me and through me.25 Undoubtedly, the mystic and the mystic-aesthetic do share a simi-lar quest for transcendence. Underhill has shown that their tempera-ments can be closely compared: In mysticism the w i l l i s united with the emotions in an impassioned desire to transcend the sense-world, in order that the self may be joined by love to the one eternal and ultimate object of love; whose existence is intuitively perceived by that which we used to c a l l the soul, but now find i t easier to refer to as the 'cosmic' or 'transcendal' sense. This i s the poetic or religious temperament acting upon the plane of reality. However, these two temperaments always remain discrete on the one fundamental issue which Dembo and Saurat suggested in their works. While the mystic's object i s to "escape the sense world", the " i n t u i -27 tion of the Real" remains an integral part of a l l a r t i s t i c experi-ence. Since this intuition "must be present i f these arts are to jus t i f y themselves as heightened forms of experience", the mystical 28 outlook can only be present "in a modified form i n the arts". Therefore, while the arts and the mystic experience may be closely interrelated, each must f i n a l l y go i t s separate way: But we do not c a l l everyone who has these partial or a r t i s t i c intuitions of reality a mystic, any more than we c a l l everyone a musician who has learned to play the piano. The true mystic is the person i n whom such powers transcend the merely a r t i s t i c and visionary stage, and are exalted to the point of con-sciousness, and who has definitely surrendered himself to the embrace of Reality. As artists stand in a peculiar relation to the phenomenal world, receiving rhythms and discovering truth and beauties that are hidden from other men, so this true mystic stands in ^ a peculiar relation to the transcendental world. . . . 11 The ab s o l u t i s t approach to the Absolute, the p u r i s t approach to the 30 Pure, renders mysticism an experience of "passionate emotion" d i s -t i n c t from a r t i s t i c experiences grounded i n the phenomenal world. "Mysticism, i n i t s pure form, i s a science of alternates, the science 31 of union with the Absolute, and nothing else. . . . " The phrase, " i n i t s pure form", acts as an important q u a l i f i c a t i o n to Underbill's d e f i n i t i o n . Poetry relates c l o s e l y to impure mysticism since i t develops the experience of a movement toward transcendence without the completion of that movement. Once transcendence i s exper-ienced, poetry i s not only unnecessary but impossible. Language w i l l not allow complete disembodiment or detachment; nor w i l l art divest i t s e l f of i t s r o l e as approximator or dissimulator. Nevertheless, poetry does have i t s r i g h t f u l heritage as a power akin to mysticism, e s p e c i a l l y when language becomes most symbolic: A l l kinds of symbolic language come n a t u r a l l y to the a r t i c u l a t e mystic, who i s often a l i t e r a r y a r t i s t as w e l l ; so n a t u r a l l y , that he sometimes forgets to explain that h i s utterance i s but symbolic—-a desperate attempt to tr a n s l a t e the truth of that world into the beauty of t h i s . I t i s here that mysti-cism jo i n s hands with music and poetry. . . Crane did not f a i l to explain the symbolic purpose of h i s art by accident; rather, he resolved to overlook such a conscious i n t e r -p r e t a t i o n of his poetry because he hoped i t could stand free of a l l connections with the l i m i t a t i o n s and approximations of the'empirical" world. Because he pursued an absolute art which r e f l e c t e d nothing but i t s own p e r f e c t i o n , h i s poetry l o s t i t s imaginative strength and s t a b i l i t y . Such was the e s s e n t i a l flaw of h i s v i s i o n . Without the "empirical" alloy to temper i t , his art was totally susceptible to the corrosiveness of skepticism and nightmare. II. "The Moth That God Made Blind" Written in 1915, when Crane was sixteen years of age, "The Moth That God Made Blind" i s a minor, juvenile work, of l i t t l e interest in i t s e l f . It i s , however, the f i r s t extant poem of Crane's career. Furthermore, i t indicates his very early preoccupations with the "mystical-empirical" dichotomy and his attempt to formalize i t i n poetic expression. For these reasons, i t merits careful examination. While this poem demonstrates Crane's fears of the threat of the "empirical" world to the poet's being, i t also suggests a contra-dictory urge to escape from a narrowly "mystical" one. What this opposition means to Crane i s indicated by the figures he uses to represent these two worlds: the moth and the Sun. The moths are exotic, delicate figures who have very limited eyesight. Their distant, dreamy world ("far oasis") i s surrounded by the hot, i n f e r t i l e desert. In their own world, they are not victims because their nocturnal vision i s restricted for a beneficial purpose, namely "for sweetness". Any attempt to scan other "horizons" would be dangerous since i t "would only mar" the "joy" that the moths can experience in their "own small oasis". The desert and the sun thus represent a force inimical to their "paradise". The undertones of such remarks indicate that Crane i s conscious of the narrow and pre-carious nature of existence in such a shaded "hot-house" world. One moth, with "signs mystical/And rings macrocosmic", lives even beyond the range of vision of those dedicated to exotic beauty. He dares to take f l i g h t , experiencing a moment of voluptuous contact with the world of daylight: "Swinging i n spirals round the fresh breasts of day". But in order to achieve this moment, he i s forced to sacri-fice everything that made him admirable among his own kind. The sun, to him "a black god", destroys his honey wax (i.e., his Icarian) eyes. "His wings atom-withered", he f a l l s to the desert below. This des-truction, however, is not an act of intentional maliciousness on the sun's part. The f r a i l moth simply finds the rays too warm to endure. If the sun seems somewhat cruelly enticing ("Seething and rounding i n long streams of light/The heat led the moth up in octopus arms"), i t s baiting of the moth and the apparent malice of i t s "octopus arms" s t i l l suggest an invitation and an embrace in spite of the cost of this event to the moth. S t i l l , because he has dared this f l i g h t , the lone moth experiences a momentary vision of "what his whole race had shunned". Furthermore, this vision i s experienced at the same time as he creates his "song", an experience which cannot be separated from the fli g h t i t s e l f ("and the torrid hum of great wings was his song"). The moth makes an important discovery here. Moons do exist that are sunned without being destroyed. His world appears, by contrast, isolated, i n f e r t i l e and disembodied because i t s creatures are restricted by their own narrow self-conception. Once he has achieved this knowledge, however, the moth cannot return to his "paradise", but must f a l l " s t i l l lonely" 14 to the desert, the land of hostile sun. In the f i n a l stanza of his poem, Crane makes an abrupt and some-what i r r i t a t i n g l y didactic shift from the narrative approach and conception to a largely personal one. Naturally, the reader i s meant to assume that the poet has been speaking of his own condition a l l along. In the desert, lost to the world of the oasis or the world of fl i g h t in the open sunshine, this poet hunts for a "spark in the sand". But his contact with the sun and his complete dependence on the dark world of "Arabian moons" which made him have l e f t him injured beyond repair. The three means by which man expresses his contact with any experience have atrophied: "These things I have:—a withered hand;—/Dim eyes;—a tongue that cannot t e l l " . The speaker cannot act, see or t e l l . The irony i s complete in that his physical impair-ment suggests his poetical one. He cannot evoke any poetic experience, since he cannot write, cannot envision, cannot articulate. Crane's personal intrusion at the end of "The Moth That God Made Blind" suggests that he is setting up a central dichotomy between the poetic world and a non-poetic one. There are, however, several ques-tions that the poem leaves unresolved. What has caused the moth to change momentarily and voice his allegiance to the sun world? Why must he f a i l ? Why does he desire a foothold in two worlds which are so apparently opposite? Why does the opposition appear to be so s t r i c t l y a "given", when other moons seem to be able to survive i n the presence of the sun? Is the sun inevitably an inimical force for the poet-figure? Or is the blind moth merely destroyed because of his f o l l y and the flawed, precarious nature of his being? Crane's confused and unresolved allegiance i n this poem indicates a pattern that continued throughout the rest of his work. If he had been content to accept this conflict as the order of the universe, his poetry might have grown into mature tragic vision. He, however, interpreted the poet's role as an obligation to resolve this antago-nism which he feared, because i t seemed capable of annihilating both his human and his a r t i s t i c natures. His most unusual precocity in discovering this tension led him to some fascinating and painful struggles within his work and within his quest for the recognition of a poetic identity. At times, he managed to resolve this tension, but only in the acceptance of tragedy. Because such a solution would not suit his search for a harmonious cosmic order, Crane always returned to the same fundamental problem. How can the poet try his wings and yet survive? III. Evidence for the "mystical-empirical" tension in Crane's Letters and Poetry. Crane's letters and poetry testify to his continued interest in resolving the dichotomy between his "empirical" and "mystical" natures. His awareness of the existence of a solid and tangible world was based, in turn, on a recognition of the world of commerce, the machine age and social and historical events. Thus, in a 1919 letter to William Wright, he openly states that "The commercial aspect i s the most prominent characteristic of America and we must a l l bow to i t sooner or later" (Letters, p. 19). The "empirical" world is thus the "given" world, the world of his heritage, against which he sought to project his private a r t i s t i c self. Consequently, seven years later, while working oh The Bridge, Crane reasserted that the ar t i s t can invent symbols, but, unless they contact a common world, they are not "symbols of real i t y " (Letters, p. 261). His words "forms, materials, dynamics" (Letters, p. 261) used to describe this world invest i t with a solidarity, at the same time as i t provided him with the basic structure for the exploration of what he termed the "nobler and better element "in our aspirations" (Letters, p. 19). This exploration had to depend on a solid structure to render i t s achievement substantial and whole. The poet's ego was not necessarily disembodied and vague, how-ever. In fact, part of his "empirical" outlook was grounded in his very own flesh and blood. Crane was wary of the consequences of a "systematically objectivised" (Letters, p. 244) approach to a r t i s t i c creativity because, as he wrote to his mother, he saw "literature as very closely related to l i f e — i t s essence, in fact" (Letters, p. 191) The l i f e of the poet's creation did not reside in the objective world but found i t s core in the "necessary 'subjective lymph and sinew'" (Letters, p. 244) of the poet's own being. Crane frequently interpreted his dualistic outlook as a conflict between what he believed "emotionally" and what he believed " i n t e l l e c -tually" (Letters, p. 261). At times, however, this same dualism was represented by a division between his inner being and the outer world: 17 ...... I somehow feel about as solitary as I eyer f e l t in my l i f e . Perhaps i t ' s a l l in the pressure of economic exigen-cies at present—but I also feel an outward chaos around me~many things happening and much that i s good but somehow myself out of i t , between two worlds. (Letters, p. 166) The letter goes on to state, however, that "of course none of this would be were I creating actively myself". Was Crane then inventing the division or was i t really there, beyond his own w i l l and ego? The whole nature of reality was based on the answer to this question. It was a problem he never really solved, although i t continued to obsess him throughout his career. The significance of the battle for control over dual sensibility through art was established at a very early time as central to Crane's moral outlook. In 1917, when s t i l l i n his teens, he was impressed by "ideas about a r t i s t i c , and psychic balance" (Letters, p. 5). His attempt to find and preserve an order between opposing outlooks was, without doubt, based as much on his personal search for a sexual and a r t i s t i c identity as on the search for a larger principle that would unite the world and the self: I realize more entirely every day that I am preparing for a fine l i f e : that I have powers which, i f correctly balanced, w i l l enable me to mount to extraordinary latitudes. There is constantly an inward struggle, but the time to worry i s only when there i s no inward debate, and consequently there i s smooth sliding to the devil. There i s only one harmony, that is the equilibrium maintained by two opposing forces, equally strong. When I perceive one emotion growing overpowering to a fact, or statement of reason, then the only manly, worthy, sensible thing to do is build up the logical side, and attain balance, and in art—formal expression. (Letters, p. 5) 18 The positive sobriety and calm assurance of this early statement unfortunately did not always remain with Crane. At times, his letters were s h r i l l and hysteric, self-indulgent and self-pitying: I have not been able to write one line since I came here . . . .—And my poem was progressing so beautifully u n t i l — — — —took i t into her head to be so destructive! How s i l l y a l l this sounds! However—it's a cruel jest of F a t e — and I doubt i f I shall continue to write for another year. For I've lost a l l faith i n my material—'human nature' or what you w i l l — a n d any true expression must rest on some faith in something. (Letters, p. 264) Crane's personal traumas and his neurotic disposition, combined with his self-indulgence and his emotional inconstancy, made such a balance as he sought more and more desirable and less and less possible as time went by. If this were the only issue behind Crane's poetry, however, his work would remain interesting merely as case-history. The problems with such a balance stemmed not merely from Crane's increasing efforts to l i e to himself as his own fragmented identity continued to trouble him, but from the deepening awareness of the "spiritual disintegration" (Letters, p. 323) of his time. A brief examination of Crane's poetic development demonstrates how the two opposing forces fascinated and troubled him throughout his career. Since the "formal expression" of art was his way of under-standing his central conflict and of establishing the balance between i t s opposing forces, poetry was both the educative process of his l i f e and the way to his salvation. Early works following closely after the composition of "The Moth That God Made Blind" show that the i n i t i a l attempts at a solution originate in efforts to confine his outlook to an anti^empirical direction. The world i n "Love and a Lamp", an earlier version of "Interior", published i n 1919, presents the world as "jealous and threatening". The poet, in order to survive, must li v e "wide from the world". Humanity was, for the young Crane, an enemy which "pecks, claws, sobs and climbs" the walls of the poet's heart, that i t would invade and destroy. The poet must withdraw, then, to an "interior" world which i s fragile, gentle and dreamy, i f he i s going to survive: I have drawn my hands away Toward peace and the grey margins of the day. The andante of vain hopes and lost regret Falls l i k e slow rain that whispers to forget,— Like a song that neither questions nor replies It laves with coolness tarnished lips and eyes.„„ ("Meditation") In 1919, at the age of twenty, Crane wrote "North Labrador", a poem which showed the f i r s t signs of a change in attitude toward the empirical world. The feeling of the absoluteness of alienation between subject and object suggests that both worlds remain incomplete. The "land of leaning ice" i s the geography of a world without man, a place of complete isolation and total suspension: 'Has no one come here to win you, Or l e f t you with the faintest blush Upon your glittering breasts? Have you no memories, 0 Darkly Bright? 1 Cold-hushed, there is only the shifting of moments That journey toward no Spring— No birth, no death, no time nor sun In answer. The humanizing metaphor, which envisions the Labrador world as an unsought woman without even the memories of love, ironically only succeeds in dehumanizing the world untouched by man. At this time, 20 Crane s t i l l found that the poet was an unwanted creature, scorned and 34 imprisoned, restricted to his "bedroom occupation". He began to feel that while a world separate from the imagination might continue to exist, i t could never really be f u l f i l l e d , never really come to l i f e without mankind's love, but would remain in i t s unformed condition of absolute zero. In "Black Tambourine", Crane diagnosed the poet's situation as that of a prisoner and slave who "wanders in some mid-kingdom" behind the "world's closed door". Knowing that this world needed the poet's 35 "mystical" insights, which could find the "spiritual gate" for a l i f e restricted to employing only primitive tools, "the plough, the 36 sword/The trowel,—and the monkey wrench", he sought the way of "meek adjustments" and "exile guise" in "Chaplinesque" and "Praise for an Urn". This course s t i l l would involve the "sidestep", but would now manifest, behind i t s evasion, the fact that the poet "can s t i l l love the world". Divorced from the "empirical" by his special role, but s t i l l bringing his "mystical" qualities to i t , the poet becomes the master comic who can transform an empty stage into a world of magic and beauty: The game enforces smirks; but we have seen The moon i n lonely alleys make A g r a i l of laughter of an empty ash can, And through a l l sound of gaiety and quest Have heard a kitten i n the wilderness. ("Chaplinesque") From this outlook on the poet's role to the "neo-Platonic" course of "For the Marriage of Faustus and Helen" was a quick and easy step. This ambitious poem led Crane to a closer contact with the occult centre of the poet's mystical capacity. The transfignrative role of the imagination is developed through the images and language of alchemy and the Mass. Like the priest, the poet's main role i s to change the "baked and labeled dough" into "the white wafer cheek of love" through an act of transubstantiation. Like the alchemist, the poet has an alembic in his language which takes the "graduate opacities" and changes them into something without dimension or equivocation. The dimensional world may exist, but i t is not for poets: There is the world dimensional for those untwisted by the love of things irreconcilable. . . ("For the Marriage of Faustus and Helen") "For the Marriage of Faustus and Helen" indicates the widening of Crane's poetic scope and the achievement of a balance in his troubled dichotomy because he now recognizes the poet's role and can relate i t to the empirical world. The unity behind apparent disunity i s achieved through love, both sp i r i t u a l and profane, based on the acceptance of a l l pain and suffering imaged by a secret communion service and the privacy of sexual union: Inevitable, the body of the world Weeps in inventive dust for the hiatus That winks above i t , bluet in your breasts. The empirical world, the world as body, yearns for i t s Incarnation, an escape from the transparency that now threatens i t ("the earth may glide diaphanous to death"). Paradoxically, the world as body i s , i n spiritual terms, bodiless u n t i l i t i s redeemed. Its body is only a termporary form and may, at any given time, be forced into becoming a l i f e l e s s diaphane. For Crane, at this time, the redemption of the 22 fallen world can only be achieved in individual private experience, "in that eventual flame" which unites passion with sp i r i t u a l sublimity. "Voyages", Crane's great sequence of love poems written over a span of six years, develops the theme of "For the Marriage of Faustus and Helen" with greater care and with a marvellous poignancy found i n the magnificence of i t s incantatory language. The metamorphosis or "transmemberment" in these songs of love gradually erases the distinc-tions between pain and ecstacy, between flesh and s p i r i t . The poet known that "the bottom of the sea i s cruel". He warns the uninitiated that the cosmic totality which the sea symbolizes is a destructive as well as a creative power. Those who go "beyond" the " l i n e " and immerse themselves in the powers of love feel the embrace of the universe, which brings about an even "greater love" beyond time and space ("this mortality alone/Through clay aflow immortally to you"). The love is destroyed, however, when time and space "together in one merciless white blade" come to part the lovers and reawaken them to their doubts and disillusionments ("'There's/Nothing like this in the world'"). The poet does find a consolation, however, in the "higher innocence" achieved after the dismemberment of love. "The imaged Word" suggests a transcendent vision, cool and serene like "April's inmost day", which provides sp i r i t u a l nourishment to the voyager who, once surviv-ing the perilous baptism, can return home. Crane has, i n this poem, achieved the seemingly impossible balance between his empirical and mystical natures without denying the substance of either outlook. Ih The Bridge, the poet undertook the ambitious task of discover-ing the synthesis of vision i n a whole larger than the individual person. It i s the exploration of a vision which, as i t s epigraph from The Book of Job suggests, sought to derive i t s strength "From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in i t " . Having gained the confidence that a mystical nature was part of his own person, Crane wanted to discover i t without himself as well, i n order to gain assurance that i t was not, after a l l , a mere s o l i p s i s t i c i l l u s i o n . Although "The Dance" cannot evoke in i t s e l f the f u l l expanse of Crane's climactic vision, i t provides an example of his course follow-ing the exploration of the "empirical" and "mystical" forces in "For the Marriage of Faustus and Helen" and in "Voyages". Now the s p i r i -tual alembic is not the matter of personal mannerist exploration through obscure metaphor. Rather, i t is the "vision of l i f e enhanced 37 by myth", the return to the collective unconscious of the "pure mythical and smoky s o i l " (Letters, p. 307). Here the "empirical" 38 world with i t s "undespoilable, physical beauty" and the "mystical" 39 "vision of sp i r i t u a l nobility" become one. The power of myth is the power of a spiritual embodiment that exceeds private predications or presuppositions. Myth offers i t s own interpretation as i t appears to generate i t s e l f , to gather material and change imperceptibly, to accrete and conflate in i t s directions and points of reference while remaining essentially constant. Any apparent change in myth i s really a new discovery of something contained therein rather than an over-throwing of i t s truth. 24 Crane's i s a myth of r i t u a l sacrifice leading to metamorphosis. The dance i s a combination of the Indians' r i t u a l worship and expres-sion, with the Dionysian return to the primal. The mythical characters, Pocahontas and Maquokeeta, are cosmic figures expressing the course of creation, as the forces of moon and sun, continent and sky, spring and winter. Yet they are also man and woman, she the "bride", he the "chieftain lover". The "I", who stands for the personal poet-figure, decides to go i n search of this primal myth which has been submerged in the s o i l : "I l e f t the village for dogwood". The poet's trip on the canoe becomes an expression of an inward voyage beyond time: "I/Drifted how many hours I never knew". This voyage i s a discovery of a heritage that embodies both the physical and cosmic as one, within the self and within his culture. Thus, as Crane stated in his letter to Kahn, "I also become identified with the Indian and his world before i t i s over, which i s the only method possible of possess-ing the Indian and his world as a cultural factor" (Letters, p.307). Because Crane f e l t the opposition of the empirical world to such mythical regeneration, he began to doubt the possibility of achieving such a unified vision. Thus the speaker in "The Dance" joins i n a r i t u a l of annihilation as he beseeches the medicine-man to " l i e to us". Crane began to realize that the poetic surge, the c a l l upon magic which he wished to effect, demanded a l i e , a rejection of the discursive powers that preserve distinctions and "circumstances" which he would not otherwise have "surpassed". When working on "For the Marriage of Faustus and Helen" he stated that "Our 'real' world" was to "act somewhat as a spring-board and. to give the poem as a whole an 40 orbit or predetermined direction of i t s own". But the contradiction between this authentic "stab at a t r u t h " ^ and the l i e of "The Dance" which was necessary to realize i t was too great for him to deny. With these doubts upon him and with the increasing need for a "mystical" course that would provide him with the path of salvation and a rationale for his poetry, Crane decided to abandon the epic outlook and to retreat once more to an anti-empirical attitude as he had done in his earliest work. Following the composition of The Bridge, he wrote to Allen Tate of his failure to "sum up the universe". The reason was a simple one: "My vision of poetry i s too personal to answer the c a l l " . Henceforth, Crane resolved that " i f [he would] ever write any more verse i t [would] probably be at least as personal as the idiom of White Buildings" (Letters, p. 353). The late poems of Key West derive their t i t l e from Blake's "Intro-duction" to Songs of Experience, a poem which enforces the outlook that pity i s the key to visionary understanding. In Crane, this pity comes close to mere self-pity. In "0 Carib Isle!" the exotic world is not lush and f e r t i l e but a source of death. The natural world i s indifferent to man ("No, nothing here/Below the palsy that one euca-lyptus l i f t s / I n wrinkled shadows—mourns") and God is absent ("But where is the Captain of this doubloon isle/Without a turnstile?"). The ending of the poem is well-phrased but suicidal: Slagged on the hurricane—I, cast within i t s flow, Congeal by afternoons here, satin and vacant. You have given me the shell, Satan—carbonic amulet Sere of the sun exploded in the sea. Poems which follow the inclination of this one must be either "against humanity" or cynical about the "idols of Futurity". In an attempt to escape to an anti-empirical view, Crane turns his back on America and celebrates the "forever f r u i t l e s s " . The poems which grow out of such an attitude, li k e "Lenses" and "Eternity", are hysterical and hypno-gogic efforts to escape facing the reality behind their fevered impres-sions: The morrow's dawn was dense with carrion hazes Sliding everywhere. Bodies were rushed into graves Without ceremony, while hammers pattered in town. The roads were being cleared, injured brought i n And treated, i t seemed. In due time The President sent down a battleship that baked Something like two thousand loaves on the way. Doctors shot ahead from the deck i n planes. ("Eternity") The fragmentary nature of this passage indicates the loss of any moral centre to Crane's vision. The sacrifice _tp_ mystical vision becomes a sacrifice of that same vision to the dislocated nightmare world of "a vast phantom" and "screaming rain". "Hieroglyphic", the epigraph to this introduction, might also act as an epigraph to Crane's work. It i s only a two-line fragment; the text without the lesson. If this statement involves him in a circular monologue, i t does have a completeness of i t s own, as a closing text to the poet's l i f e . It brings Crane back to the ab ovo nature of his dilemma. What i s the hieroglyph—the external empirical substance, or the internal mystical core? 27 References: Chapter 1 1 Hart Crane, Ten Unpublished Poems (New York: Gotham Book Mart, 1972) n.p. 2 I use the word "groups" here, since the word "movement" i s too strong a term to apply to the American Symbolists. 3 The word i s , of course, Melville's (c.f. Moby Dick, Chapter 35, "The Masthead": "Over Descartian vortices you hover"). I w i l l return to this important phrase in a subsequent chapter on Melville. 4 The Letters of Hart Crane: 1916-1932, ed. Brom Weber (Berkeley and Los; Angeles: University of California Press, 1965), p. 260. Subsequent references w i l l be given internally, and w i l l be to this edition. 5 The Complete Poems and Selected Letters and Prose of Hart Crane, ed. with an Introduction and Notes by Brom Weber (Garden City, New York: Doubleday and Co., 1966), p. 122. A l l references to Crane's poems w i l l be to this edition, unless otherwise indicated. 6 Crane also referred to "Atlantis" as "the mystic consummation" (Letters, p. 290) of his poem, The Bridge. 7 Waldo Frank, "Hart Crane", "Appendix" to The Complete Poems and Selected Letters and Prose of Hart Crane, p. 270. 8 Amos N. Wilder, The Spiritual Aspects of the New Poetry (Freeport, New York: Books for Libraries Press, 1968), p. 123. 9 Ibid. 10 Studies in Structure: The Stages of the Spiritual Life i n Four Modern Authors (Fordham University Press, 1974). 11 Ibid, p. 4. 28 12 Ibid. 13 Ibid, p. 103. 14 Ibid. 15:::: Ibid. 16 Frank, p. 271 17 The Truth of Poetry: Tensions in Modern Poetry from Baudelaire to the I960's (England: Penguin Books, 1972). 18 Ibid., p. 228 19 (New York: E. P. Dutton & Co., Inc., 1961). 20 Ibid., p. 11 21 Literature and Occult Tradition: Studies in Philosophical Poetry trans., Dorothy Bolton (Port Washington, New York: Kenniket Press, 1966), p. 1. 22 Ibid., p. 56 23 Conceptions of Reality in Modern American Poetry (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1966), p. 12. 24 Ibid. 25 Ibid. 26 Underhill, p. 71. 27 Ibid., p. 74 29 28 Ibid. •29 Ibid., p. 75 30 Ibid., p. 72 31 Ibid. 32 Ibid., p. 80 33 Crane, Seven Lyrics (Ibex Press, 1966), n.p. 34 The phrase i s from Crane's "Porphyro in Akron". 35 Crane, "Emblems of Conduct". 36 Crane, "Porphyro in Akron". 37 R.W.B. Lewis, The Poetry of Hart Crane: A C r i t i c a l Study (Prince-ton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1967), p. 288. 38 Ibid. 39 Ibid. 40 Crane, "General Aims and Theories" in The Complete Poems, p. 220. 41 Ibid. 30 CHAPTER II CRANE AND FIN DE SIECLE " . . . song of minor, broken strain" ("C 33") The earliest period of Crane's poetic career was deeply influenced by the literature of the f i n de siecle. In fact, the influence was so strong that this apprentice work has l i t t l e voice of i t s own. Crane's later decision to ignore i t s existence must have been based not only on his awareness of i t s infer i o r i t y to his maturer work, but also on his recognition of i t s excessive imitativeness of i t s predecessors. It i s , of course, juvenile verse that contains l i t t l e evidence of the powerful visionary poetry which would follow i t . Consequently, this poetry, in i t s e l f , i s of l i t t l e worth or interest, It does have an important place, nonetheless, in relation to the shape and direction of Crane's career. Certain outlooks generated by this early approach to poetry continued to haunt him i n later periods of his poetic development. The poets of the f i n de siecle period who interested Crane—Dowson, Johnson, Wilde and Swinburne1—were obvious figures for him to imitate. Fi r s t of a l l , they were very influential on a l l young writers who were composing poetry in the early years of the twentieth century. Other American poets like Pound, Williams and Frost, imitated the f i n de siecle writers considerably in their pre-"Renascence" works. Unlike the Romantics or mid-Victorians, the f i n de siecle artists seemed to provide the new artists of the twentieth century with a youthful and rebellious 31 example which they were eager to follow. Both groups of artists were involved in the re-definition of the nature of the self and of the world of art: "The problem for these artists might be described as one of self-definition in a society whose values they f e l t they could not accept." This d i f f i c u l t quest involved the a r t i s t i n a painful c r i s i s of se l f -discovery: Role-playing was a matter of dead seriousness with the men of the nineties. For some, such as Dowson, Johnson, and Symons, the pattern of their lives grew out of a very clear perception of their own unclarity and inde-terminateness. Am I really there? Look in the mirror to see. And like Wilde many of the so-called 'decadents' sought the sort of ego-protection that the mask might pro-vide. . . . For what Wilde said of Symons could be applied to a l l his contemporaries: A l l were 'sad example[s] of an Egoist who has no Ego.' This i s the basis of our interest in them: The way both their lives and their art are trans-ported into a shadowy no-man's-land where neither l i f e nor art can achieve substantial existence.3 This point i s obviously an important one for Crane, a poet who, from the very beginning, searched for the substance of his own ego in a world of art. One of his earliest works, "C 33", demonstrates Crane's a f f i n i t y with the f i n de siecle a r t i s t s ' view of this search. In this poem, Crane identified himself with Oscar Wilde, seeing the c r i s i s of self-definition in his terms. This point w i l l be discussed later on in this chapter, when we turn to an examination of Crane's early poetry in more detail. There were other more specific reasons, however, for Crane's great interest in the work of f i n de siecle ar t i s t s . Their radical views on art and l i f e lent support to his own rebellions. As a young man in search of a poetic voice, Crane f e l t his own isolation from his mid-Western American background. His family was deeply rooted in the bour-32 geois mercantile world. The young poet's devotion to art not only isolated him from his heritage, but also made him more vulnerable, especially to the attacks of his father, who could not understand how writing poetry differed i n any essential way from sports lik e playing golf. Whereas his father wanted him to inherit both the candy-manufac-turing business and the a b i l i t i e s to run i t , Crane was ambitiously directing his energies towards a career as a poet. In the f i n de siecle writers, he found an unconditional devotion to this same goal. It was not a profession—but a l i f e . Furthermore, Crane was clearly facing the problems of his own sexual identity at the time when he was writing his f i r s t poems. The f i n de siecle writers were notorious for their open confessions of their commit-ment to bold and unorthodox views in this area. Even more important, 4 they lived according to these views. Young Crane was a very nervous and high-strung adolescent, who, i t seems, had already made attempts on his own l i f e . " ' He was torn by his parents' sexual incompatibility and emo-tionally consumed by a mother whose wholesale control over him was the single most important formative influence of his early l i f e . Family tensions, culminating in his parents' divorce, became increasingly unbearable for him. The heroically unconventional and, at times, sel f -sentimentalizing work of the f i n de siecle writers must have been a real source of inspiration for him during these d i f f i c u l t years. Finally, Crane must have been drawn to the poetry of this period because i t was so deeply rooted i n the "mystic-aesthetic" outlook which had a special a f f i n i t y with the poet's sensibility. According to this 33 outlook, the art i s t could only find reality in a world of his own mind. Fin de siecle artists were often sad and lonely because of the ephemeral and illusory, the isolate and misunderstood, nature of their private world: The most succinct and influential statement of their position i s Walter Pater's 'Conclusion' to The Renaissance. Its premise i s that nothing outside the mind has any meaning save that given i t by the mind. Everyone creates for himself a reality which i s personal, incommunicable, and imprisoning. However, each individual has sensory experience as a means of escape to the world outside the mind. Such experience may be an illusory escape, but the question of i t s truth or falsehood simply does not apply, for the mind gives i t reality.6 Such an outlook took the writer out of the prison of one r e a l i t y — t h e distrusting and distrustful outer world—but then placed him in another one: In the 'moment' they had not a "proper basis upon which to form a self. The consequence of their attempt to put i t to that purpose was the Decadent self, impermanent and insubstantial, a self dependent upon the moment, a series of selves, separate and distinct from one another, appear-ing and vanishing on the continuum of time.^ According to such a view, the ar t i s t becomes dedicated to an autotelic art "with the consequence that the ar t i s t can employ i n his art whatever he finds suitable, however irrational or inexplicable i t may be." The world of the exotic and strange becomes his province, his 9 "reality", not the world of "the common sense and commonplace." Crane's poetry of this period i s f u l l of the essential contradictions of this view. The ar t i s t i s not one with the world, but is separated from i t . Such separation can bring him to momentary visions, but i t also makes him a martyr of time. Ironically, the art i s t who stresses the 34 need for self-definition ends up with an undefined ego that has no world other than i t s e l f . Escaping the substantiality of a cruel and harsh world, the f i n de siecle a r t i s t often degenerates into an insubstantial and indistinct self. I. 1916-1919: Crane's "Pagan" Period. Crane quickly recognized that his early f i n de siecle-influenced poems were too effete and unoriginal to be retained as a respectable part of his poetic output. Bibliographical evidence reveals his lack of interest in preserving them as part of his canon. His decision to ignore them completely when preparing his f i r s t volume, White Buildings, is evidence of his lack of belief i n the durability and worth of their statements. These poems f i n a l l y made their appearance either in the posthumously published Collected Poems (1933) or in Brom Weber's biogra-phy, Hart Crane,published in 1948. In fact, we have only a small sampling of Crane's work from this period, since "the poet destroyed the manuscripts of most of his early v e r s e . " T h e Moth That God Made Blind" and the poems in Seven Lyrics were not published u n t i l :the 1960's, more than three f u l l decades after Crane's death. During the years 1916-1919, however, Crane did everything he could to achieve publication of these works. He established contacts with Mrs. William Vaughan Moody and Rev. Charles C. Bubb in hopes that they would acknowledge his work and find i t worthy of printing. He also communicated with two magazines, Bruno's Weekly and The Pagan, that were dedicated to an a r t i s t i c outlook similar to his own. Bruno's Weekly published Crane's f i r s t poem, a celebration of Oscar Wilde's martyr-35 idealism, in 1916. Guido Bruno, the editor, had for his literary idols "the poets of the 1890's, notably Oscar Wilde, Algernon Swinburne, and 12 ^ Ernest Dowson."' The Pagan was devoted to a f i n de siecle sensibility as well, i n spite of i t s attempts to appear more modernized and experi-mental. In 1916 Crane wrote a brief statement to Joseph Kling, editor of The Pagan, praising his magazine as a "new and distinctive chord in 13 the present American Renaissance of literature and art." This communi-14 cation i s a "somewhat patronizing note" written by an immature poet, attempting to pose as an experienced a r t i s t . Crane's basic ploy appears to have been to introduce himself to the editor as a worldly c r i t i c before sending him his poems for publication. The story of Crane's brief relationship with The Pagan encapsulates the period of his f i n de siecle associations. After the magazine accep-ted his poem "Annunciations" i n 1917, he continued to send his works to Kling throughout the following year. In fact, he joined The Pagan as a regular contributor under the t i t l e of associate editor. His contribu-tion was a "column called 'The Last Chord' . . . a c r i t i c a l commentary on the concerts, exhibitions and drama about town, as seen and heard by 15 'A Pagan Knight'." As early as the f a l l of 1917, however, he ex-pressed his doubts concerning the value of associating with Kling in his publications. He wrote to his friend, Schmitt: I don't trust Kling's criticism very far judging by the 'tone' generally prevalent in the magazine. But I am improving and would just as soon be a l i t t l e deceived as not.16 By November, 1919, he repeated the view of the bookdealer, Laukhuff, that The Pagan " i s getting too tame" (Letters, p.23). Crane looked for 36 other publishing outlets and found one for a short while in The Modernist, a similar magazine, which he quickly rejected as a source of "literary 17 rubbish." By January of 1920, he dubbed The Pagan "that fetid corpse" (Letters, p. 31), in spite of the fact that the magazine continued in 1921. In effect, before his twentieth year, Crane had decided to discon-tinue his relationship with-the f i n de siecle climate. II. Crane's Early Work and the Fin de Siecle. Crane's association with The Pagan, The Modernist, and Bruno's Bohemia, as well as his reading in f i n de siecle writing, especially 18 Swinburne, Wilde, and Lionel Johnson, were strong factors in deter-mining the form and content of his early works. Certainly, he was fas-cinated by Wilde's rebellious poses through which he cultivated a cer-tain amount of flippancy and amorality, of self-importance and flam-19 boyance. Swinburne, "the poet par excellence of adolescence", was a figure who had dared to explore Satanism and perversion in his l y r i c s . Lionel Johnson had a sense of "aristocratic remoteness", a sense of moral and cultural superiority which allowed him to retreat from vulgar diurnal existence. Such figures had a powerful influence on Crane, an adolescent searching for a way of expressing his own precocious a r t i s t i c sensibility. A few of Crane's early poems, most noticeably "Modern Craft" and "Carmen de Boheme", are his attempts at projecting the voice of one experienced in the world of modern love. The poet-figure in these works attempts to flaunt an image of himself as a young man caught up in a world of sin and corruption which he cannot, and would not, escape. The 37 props, including the women, are standard elements of a.bizarre and exotic Decadent scene: Bright peacocks drink from flame-pots by the wall, Just as absinthe-sipping women shiver through With shimmering blue from the bowl in Circe's h a l l . Their brown eyes blacken, and the blue drops hue. ("Carmen de Boheme") The whispering "andante" of the verse i s certainly imitative of Swin-burne, while the setting i s indebted to the atmosphere of Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray. The poem is a failure, however. Not only i s i t s t y l i s t i c a l l y clumsy, but i t f a i l s to establish the authentic voice of a man determined to accept his fate as one who cannot escape "Carmen's mystic face." In fact, this woman never becomes more than "some dream". She is a wooden figure, the composite of a rather r i g i d and jaundiced anatomy, rather than an i r r e s i s t i b l e passion. Crane obviously had not experienced the feelings he was trying to evoke. The expression of Carmen's devastating beauty i s inadequate because her presence i n the poem is limited to the rather fragmented "flaunts" in the latter stanzas: Carmen! Akimbo arms and smouldering eyes;— Carmen! Bestirring hope and lipping eyes;— Carmen whirls, and music swirls and dips. 'Carmen!', comes awed from wine-hot l i p s . This woman lacks any pervasive control over the magic of the poem as i t s femme fatale. In reality, she i s only part of the "tapestry"-like atmosphere. Strangely enough, the "gestureless and mute" woman in "Modern Craft" has more l i f e in her, probably because the poet's voice i s a stronger one here. His observation on the witch-like nature of this woman ("My modern love were/Charred at the stake i n younger times than ours") makes both the lover and his woman a l i t t l e more believable 38 than they appear to be in the preyious poem. Nevertheless, this woman is s t i l l a statuary creation, a mannequin ("She hazards jet; wears t i g e r - l i l i e s ; — " ) , more than an object of man's desires. These poems, then, are true to the ostentatious atmosphere of f i n de siecle, but f a i l to achieve any emotional or dramatic authenticity mainly because the poet's self-conception i s practically non-existent. The "flappers" and "vamps" should be "unreal" but the man who desires them should make their unreality his passion. The largest portion of Crane's early poems present the poet as someone who dwells alone in his fragile, disembodied dream. "The Moth 21 That God Made Blind" and the majority of his Seven Lyrics, especially "Naiad of Memory," "To Earth," "Exile (after the Chinese)," "Echoes," 22 and "Meditation," suggest the poet's feelings of weakness and capitu-lation in the face of the stronger "empirical" world. The subject of each poem involves an attempt to escape this world in a "moment of 23 dissolving happiness." The poet's world is an interiorized one, "wide 24 from the world" that i s inimical to "the lamp's brief glow." A victim of the tyrannical control of the "Earth," who is the mother of the physical fate of a l l men, the poet prays she w i l l "be earnest . . .and 25 kind." The poet is like the fragile "flower that opened in the storm" that w i l l perish i f the Earth decides to express her f u l l power. He can 26 only survive i f she w i l l be gentle towards him. "Naiad of Memory" shows that "the world has had i t s way . . .", eventually destroying what the suspended imagination managed to create for i t s e l f . The vague, semi-mythical, abstract t i t l e of the poem 39 suggests the elusive nature of the l i f e that has been lost because the "world" w i l l not let the poet be. Man's l i f e w i l l not nurture the dreams for long, because, as the f i n de siecle poet eventually realizes, this l i f e i s a very feeble, ephemeral substance, which w i l l eventually be consigned to oblivion. Crane's main authority here is probably Swinburne, a poet who was strongly obsessed by this same theme: Could not one day withhold, One night; and like as these White ashes of no weight, Held not his urn the cold Ashes of Heracles? For a l l things born, one gate Opens,—no gate of gold; Opens; and no man sees 27 Beyond the gods and fate. Swinburne was the poet who made Crane aware of love's brief b i t t e r -sweet respite from time: Time that made us and w i l l slay Laughs at love in me and thee; But i f here the flowers may see One whole hour of amorous breath, Time shall die, and love shall be Lord as time was over death. Crane's "Love and A Lamp" refers to a similar "stolen hour" lived in the privacy of "our small room": And even should the world break i n , Jealous and threatening with guile, The world at last must bow and win Our pity and a smile. For Crane, the feelings of love were best compared to "a tardy flower. . . in the lamp's brief glow" ("Love and A Lamp"). They w i l l not last since, as Dowson revealed i n one of his most famous poems, man's glor-ious moments are as short-lived as his humiliating ones: "They are not 40 long, the weeping and the laughter,/Loye and desire and hate".'13 Although he would like to believe i n the eternal power of.his sublimest moments, man is only self-deceived since they are a l l subject to the same ending. For Crane, the only preservative is escape, in a "stolen hour" of love's oblivion. This love must be fragile, however, since a more complete oblivion w i l l force the lovers to a "farewell". Even-tually, each man, after losing himself in the "opal pools" of his lover's « 30 eyes, w i l l have to look into the eyes of a Medusa-like reality, who 31 w i l l say: "Behold thy lover—/Stone!" Although Crane was fascinated by Swinburne's works because of their "andante" rhythms and their themes of the ephemeral nature of love and joy, perhaps the most obvious influence his poetry had on Crane's was based on his image of the sea as eternity or oblivion. This image was to remain of constant importance to Crane's work, most notably i n "Voyages" but also, of course, in "Atlantis" and in late poems like "0 Carib Isle!" In "Love at Sea", Swinburne wrote of the voyage as a quest for a private and secure harbour of eternal love that is beyond human experience: Land me, she says, where love Shows but one shaft, one dove, One heart, one hand. —A shore like that, my dear, Lies where no man w i l l steer, No maiden land.32 The male voice knows that such love is not possible for man. In "Les Noyades", the young warrior i s pleased to drown with the lady, since he i s in this way given "What man was never yet given of God": 41 For never a man, being mean like me, Shall die lik e me t i l l the whole world dies. I shall drown with her, laughing for love; and she .Mix with me, touching me, li p s and eyes.33 Swinburne i s always conscious of the passing of time and the failure of love on earth, but such a consummation is a baptism in eternal oblivion: From too much love of l i v i n g , From hope and fear set free, We thank with brief thanksgiving Whatever gods may be That no l i f e lives forever; That dead men rise up never; That even the weariest river ^ Winds somewhere safe to sea. 35 Crane's early poems contain similar images of hands, doves and hearts but, more importantly, they turn to the Swinburnian vocabulary of the sea as oblivion. In "Meditation", the poet speaks of escape from the common world towards that of the "ungathered rose": I have drawn my hands away Like ships for guidance in the l i f t and spray Of stars that urge them toward an unknown goal. In "Naiad of Memory", he speaks of the eventual surrender to oblivion which is inescapable: The world has had i t s way... Though the smiles of many an adolescent moon Have held her, The sand of time flows barren through my fingers And even memory w i l l be erased As a cameo the waves claim again. The recurring image of the poet as a martyr-idealist i s fundamental to the thematic development of Crane's early work. In "The Hive", he presents the poet's suffering in a Christ-like image, reminiscent of the Sacred Heart: 42 Up the chasm-walls of my bleeding heart Humanity pecks, claws, sobs and climbs; Up the inside, and oyer every part Of the hive of the world that i s my heart. Such an image relates closely to that of the f i n de siecle a r t i s t , alienated from and misunderstood by his fellow man. For Crane, this i s the nature of the poet's identity. One of the strongest statements of this theme i s "C 33". In this work, Crane presents the Oscar Wilde of 36 De Profuridis, the sad, abused prisoner of Reading Gaol. Crane seems to be more interested in the private Wilde than i n the public one, represented by the light-hearted dramatist or the Decadent poseur. In this poem, Crane pities Wilde even more than Wilde pitied himself. Nevertheless, the outcast figure i s a s a c r i f i c i a l hero, who continues to 37 sing. The few who l i s t e n and understand him can recognize the purity of his song beyond the "searing sophistry" of humanity: But you who hear the lamp whisper thru night Can trace paths tear-wet, and forget a l l blight. Crane's early poems are also s t y l i s t i c a l l y imitative of the f i n de siecle writers. His language certainly follows their slow, ceremonial phrasing: Dr i f t , 0 wakeful one, 0 restless soul, Until the glittering white open hand Of heaven thou shalt read and understand. ("Meditation") Wilde's frequent use of the apostrophe and of antiquated diction to create a world out of time (see especially "Charmides" and "Human!tad") i s a definite influence here. Since Crane's poems deal mostly with dreams and departures, with the interiorized l i f e of the soul's desires, this language is often abstract and rarefied, torpid and melancholy: 43 I have drawn my hands away Toward peace and the grey margins of the day. The andante of vain.hopes and lost regret Falls like slow rain that whispers to forget,-— ("Meditation") The origins for the almost frozen movement of this passage can be found in almost any of Dowson's poems: Calm, sad, secure; behind high convent walls, These watch the sacred lamp, these watch and pray; And i t is one with them when evening f a l l s And one with them the cold return of day. 39 Lewis has also demonstrated the Swinburnian influence on Crane's "expansive rhythm" by comparing his "Annunciations" to the self-parody-ing "Nephelida". Images in Crane's poems of choristers, lamps, the heron, "jasmine moon", "circles of cool roses", "the desert", "transient blooms", "gold head", the "moth's descent", are a l l part of the f i n de siecle poet's props for creating his elusive and "mystical" atmosphere. Precious stones, opal and jade, appear both in Crane's work and in that of the master of Decadent atmosphere, Oscar Wilde, wherein they suggest the priceless exotic romance of the poet's vision. The "jade-green" rain in Crane's "Echoes" i s reminiscent of the "rippled jade" image of the "pale Green Thames" in Wilde's "Symphony in Yellow". In fact, the more Crane's poems are examined, the less they seem to contain any features that are really his own. A study of one poem like "Naiad of Memory" shows that Crane manages to create the feeling of memory's erasure through the melancholy vagueness of the music and the softness of the passive images. The submerged atmosphere of surrender, the sense of being "adrift", "a waif of the tides", i s well-created. 4 4 But there is l i t t l e else of significance in the poem beyond this slight, suggestive atmosphere. Part of the fault belongs to the fin.de siecle outlook, since i t i s both extremely restricted and diffuse. If this movement's poems have any energy at a l l , i t i s mainly on the surface. The poet has no chance to explore tensions, since the purpose behind his writing i s to glorify and sentimentalize capitulation. "Naiad of Memory" contains a l i t t l e of Crane's own dynamism in the pun-like image of tossing which "Rounds off my memory". This image i s picked up again in the erosion-erasure of the cameo. Like the very image i t s e l f , however, the purpose for the appearance of this pun is to advance the hazy and suggestive nature of the poem's theme. It is a device which lacks clear organic relation to the rest of the work. In general, the poem i s too limply precious, too cliched and cloying ("smiles of many an adolescent Moon", "sand of time") to be of even minor worth. The simile of the memory as cameo i s i r r i t a t i n g l y forced, although the feeling i t creates is tonally consistent with the theme of the poem. Crane's poem is weepy because i t i s unfelt; i t lacks the desolate inevitability which Dowson can achieve with the consistency of tone and tightness of form. Hence Crane's poem "Exile (after the Chinese)", with i t s f a t a l l y juvenile t i t l e that attempts to echo Dowson and possibly Pound, has the same inevitable limpness. "Stinging gentleness" i s too forced an oxymoron to e l i c i t any response other than impatience. Consequently, when his work i s compared with f i n de siecle poems, it s i n f e r i o r i t y i s evident. Crane superficially imitated Johnson's and Dowson's world-weariness without really understanding the experience 45 f u l l y . He lacked the utter acceptance of fate that Johnson expresses in so much of his work: 0 rich and sounding voices of the a i r . Interpreters and prophets of despair: Priests of a fearful sacrament! I come, To make with you mine home.40 He also f a i l s to achieve anything like the dramatic sense of loss and weariness found in Dowsbn's well-controlled statements: Words are so weak When love hath been so strong: Let silence speak: 'Life i s a l i t t l e while, and love is long; A time to sow and reap, And after harvest a long time to sleep, But words are weak. In general, Crane can evoke a fragile and evanescent atmosphere and attitudinize about i t . He lacks, however, the a b i l i t y of his prede-cessors to dramatize the inveterate reality of the "empirical" world which they strive so desperately to deny. The strength of the true f i n de siecle work i s based on the way i t spites reality and then loses to i t . Crane's poems lose before they even begin, since his anti-empiri-cism i s based on fear and false sentiment rather than on bravery and necessity. Certainly, his motive for eventually rejecting his early poems for publication i s based on their superficiality and juvenile imitativeness. Nevertheless, they do provide evidence of Crane's poetic origins and of the narrow vision which he had to overcome before reaching his maturer outlook. 46 III. Conclusion Through his imitation of f i n de siecle poetry, Crane recognized the poet's role as that of a special prophet, a vates or seer, out of sorts with the crudity of the external world. A reading of Crane's complete works demonstrates a confused reassertion of the poet's role as that of martyr-idealist (see, for example, "C 33", "The Hive", "Chaplinesque", "Lachrimae Christi", "The Dance", and Purgatorio"). Gradually he saw himself less and less the passive martyr and more and more the i n d i v i -dual who not only responds to the suffering, but who also endures i t , by rising above i t and incorporating i t into his new vision. Eventually, Crane realized that pain was not merely an alienating force, but an aspect of the situation to be either endured i n order to gain this new wisdom or glorified as a part of the way to acceptance. "Voyages" shows the true grasp of this awareness. This acceptance was only possible once Crane had discovered the true central core of the double tradition wherein he existed—that of the Romantic-Symbolist and that of the American modernist. Fin de siecle helped him to reach backward to the Romanticism of the major poets and ahead to Symbolism. In this sense, i t allowed him to contact one half of this tradition. The distrust of nature and the development of the a r t i f i c i a l remained with Crane throughout his poetic career. In essence, f i n de siecle i s the proto-modern climate, with i t s focus on city l i f e and the attitude or pose of the urbane sophisticate. Its literature also stresses the feelings of alienation from the outer world, brought about largely by industrialization, and developing into 47 escapism and the twilight world of .aberrant or hallucinatory experience— the dream world of drugs, alcohol and sexual inversion. Although Crane's f i r s t poems were merely imitative of poetry of the 1890's, he could not repudiate his identity as the heir of a hard-headed American middle-class tradition. The f i n de siecle poets gave up in the quest for unity by masking one half of the Januskopf, the outward-looking one, for the complete concentration on the inward-looking one. Crane recognized this decision and realized the danger of i t s self -limiting outlook. The f i n de siecle tradition, and especially "the two chief influences—Wilde and Swinburne", were the ones "that Crane had to 42 escape before he could arrive . . . at an idiom and melody of his own". At the same time, he could never be completely sure of a way out of the situation. He could see that the poetry of irony and mockery, of nega-tion and self-belittlement, was evasive. At moments, however, when his inspiration failed, he could not resist deceiving himself by advocating the escapism of an effete consciousness, reduced by i t s repudiation of the external world.^ Thus, the f i n de siecle provided him with one vision magnified out of proportion and the other blinded. Crane's achievement rose out of his awareness of this problematic position, followed by the struggle to reassert a balance. The f i r s t step was to recognize how this problem was handled by the High Romantic figures. 48 References Chapter 2 1 ^Swinburne is not a figure who can be grouped with the f i n de siecle writers without at least making some defence for taking this position. Literary historians have located him with the mid-Victor-ians and with the Pre-Raphaelite figures. I am following Barbara Charlesworth, who groups him with the Decadents in her book, Dark Passages: The Decadent Consciousness in Victorian Literature (Madison and Milwaukee: University of Wisconsin Press, 1965). Although most of Swinburne's work was written before the 1890's, he was a major i n f l u -ence in determining the course of the f i n de siecle movement. 2 Charlesworth, xiv. 3 Masao Miyoshi, The Divided Self: A Perspective on the Literature of the Victorians (New York: New York University Press, 1969), pp. 320-321. 4 Dowson was enamoured of a twelve-year-old g i r l ; Johnson and Wilde were both homosexuals. Swinburne was possibly homosexual as well. His poetry at least suggests a strongly cultivated effeminacy as well as his fascination with the masochistic role which he indulged in while at college. 5 Philip Horton, Hart Crane: The Life of an American Poet (New York: The Viking Press, 1957), p. 28. 6 Charlesworth, xv. 7 Ibid., xvi. 8 Miyoshi, p. 293. 9 Ibid. 10 Brom Weber, Hart Crane: A Biographical and C r i t i c a l Study (New York: Bodley Press, 1948). 11 Kenneth Lohf, "Preface" to Seven Lyrics 49 12 Ibid., n.p. 13 John Unterecker, Voyager: A Life of Hart Crane (London: Anthony Blond, Ltd., 1969), p. 46. 14 Horton, p. 33 15 Ibid., p. 58 16 quoted in Horton, p. 56. 17 Unterecker, p. 145. 18 see Unterecker, p. 32 for evidence that Crane possessed copies of these works. 19 Horton, p. 31. 20 Charlesworth, p. 88. 21 see Joseph Schwartz and Robert C. Schweik, Hart Crane: A Descrip- tive Bibliography (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1972), p. 78 for evidence that the Seven Lyrics were not the group of poems sent to Rev. Bubb as Lohf had suggested in his "Preface". 22 "Naiad of Memory" appears as "Legends" in Complete Poems with alterations. "Exile (after the Chinese)" appears as "Carrier Letter"; "Love and a Lamp" as "Interior" and "Echoes" under the same t i t l e , in each case with considerable variations in text. 23 Crane, "Meditation" in Seven Lyrics. 24 Crane, "Love and a Lamp" in Seven Lyrics. 25 Crane, "To Earth" in Seven Lyrics 50 26 Crane's poetry demonstrates that he i s more capable of realizing the image of the cruel mother than that of the cruel lover. Such evidence provides interesting insight into Crane's psychological state during adolescence. 27 Algernon Charles Swinburne, "A Lamentation" i n The Poetical Works of A.C. Swinburne (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell and Co., 1884), p. 472. 28 Swinburne, "Before Sunset", Ibid., p. 552 29 The Poems of Ernest Dowson (New York: John Lane Company, 1917), p. 2. 30 see Mario Praz, The Romantic Agony, 2nd edition, trans. Angus Davidson (London: Oxford University Press, 1970), Chapter 1, "The Beauty of the Medusa" for a study of this theme in late nineteenth century literature. 31 Crane, "Medusa" in Seven Lyrics 32 Swinburne, "Love at Sea" in The Poetical Works of A.C. Swinburne, p. 485. 33 Swinburne, "Les Noyades" in Swinburne: Poems, ed. Bonamy Dobree (England: Penguin Books Ltd., 1961), p. 37. 34 Swinburne, "The Garden of Proserpine" in The Poetical Works of A.C. Swinburne, p. 484. 35 I have found the word "hand" at least seven times in Crane's early works. "Dove" appears in two poems and "heart" in two. Other favourite words are "night", "dawn", "white", "shell", "moon" and rose . 51 36 In De Profundis, Wilde identified himself as a martyr when he wrote that "Christ's own nature makes him the centre of romance". (De Profundis and Other Writings, England: Penguin Books, 1973, p. 173). He also stated: "The Mystical in Art, The Mystical in Life , the Mystical in Nature—that i s what I am looking for". (De Profundis, p. 207). 37 My interpretation of the concluding lines of this poem differs from M.D. Uroff's (see Hart Crane: The Patterns of His Poetry, Urbana: University of I l l i n o i s , 1974, pp. 18-19). Uroff sees the "Materna" or "the s p i r i t of poetry" as the "you" in the penultimate line of the poem. 38 Dowson, p. 5. 39 Lewis, p. 16. 40 Lionel Johnson, "Mystic and Cavalier" in Aesthetes and Decadents of the 1890's: An Anthology of British Poetry and Prose, ed. Karl Beckson (New York: Random House, 1966), p. 114. 41 Dowson, p. 67. 42 Lewis, p. 15. 43 Witness the relative failure of several Key West poems: "A Name for A l l " , "Royal Palms" and especially the very weak "To the Cloud Juggler", the formless "Moment Fugue" and "The Mango Tree". 52 CHAPTER III HART CRANE AND HIGH ROMANTICISM: WORDSWORTH AND COLERIDGE One can respond only to certain circumstances; just what the barriers are, and where the boun-daries cross can never be completely known. And the surest way to frustrate the possibility of any free realization i s , i t seems to me, to wil f u l l y direct i t . (Letters, p. 301) I. Introduction: The Romantic "Tradition" and Crane In 1930, Crane wrote a letter to Allen Tate, responding to the latter's review of The Bridge i n The Hound and the Horn: The fact that you posit The Bridge at the end of a tradition of romanticism may prove to have been an accurate prophecy, but I don't yet feel that such a statement can be taken as a foregone conclusion. A great deal of romanticism may p e r s i s t — o f the sort to deserve serious consideration, I mean. (Letters, p. 352-353) Crane's refusal to accept Tate's conclusion that The Bridge would "logically and morally""'" end "the romantic era" defines the difference between two important interpretations of Romanticism. For Tate, i t was an "era", a particularly restricted tradition or school that had had i t s day. Its importance, for him, was a hi s t o r i c a l one. The s e l f - c r i t i c a l nature of the twentieth century refused to follow the Romantic poet's 2 impulse to "impose his w i l l upon experience". Although Tate did not 3 suggest that i t s "impulse may not rise and flourish again", he refused to believe that Romanticism would once more gain any significant power or meaningfulness. Crane, on the other hand, saw this movement as a livi n g tradition that could not be rejected through any "foregone con-clusion" li k e Tate's. For Crane, the sense of separation between the 53 " I " and the "non-I" and the struggles to explore a way to re-establish a synthesis between the two were the main preoccupations of the Romantic outlook. The persistence of this problem and the search for a vision powerful enough to grasp and shape i t depended on this outlook for i t s renewed strength. 4 Crane would have agreed with writers lik e Harold Bloom, who refuse to confine Romanticism to the European, and especially British and German, poetry and poetic of the early nineteenth century. For Bloom, the possible origins of Romantic literature may have to be traced a l l the way back to The Odyssey, wherein the "internalization of quest""' involves the struggle to redeem the self in a knowing, unified whole. If this quest goes back to the liv i n g origins of Western c i v i l i z a t i o n , i t may also extend forward to the present day, with i t s continued and possibly even increased need for a sense of unity. Romanticism appears, in fact, to have a significant relation to Western Culture, particularly to those periods when a sense of divisiveness i s f e l t between the worlds of the self and the non-self. Crane did not always have faith in his Romantic outlook. In fact, he insisted that he was "unresolved as to any ultimate conviction" (Letters, p.260) on the point of this divisiveness. The problem became especially obvious during the composition of The Bridge when he was searching for "the background of an age of faith " which would give his "romantic attitude" more than "subjective significance". (Letters, p.261) The factors i n the "common race, time and belief" simply did not have the cohesive, organic propensity which he found i n the self. Neverthe-54 less, the struggle to achieve such a unity of outlook continued to obsess him even when he was forced to turn inward for the impetus which he needed for his belief. Romanticism encouraged Crane in pursuing his "mystical" direction through the glorification of the " I " . Whether we accept i t as truth or not, this tradition placed a sacred value on the poet's role as the attempt to achieve a transcendent unity above and beyond the rational "dualistic world view". Its principles are fundamentally unorthodox, anti-Christian and frequently self-worshipping: If one impulse can be singled out as central to the romantic aspiration, i t is the Sehnsucht, the yearn-ing toward the absolute, the aspiration to oneness and wholeness and organic unity, the dream of perfection.6 Such a view, aimed at the glorification of the individual as potentially divine, gave the poet a special vatic mission, and tended to deny the reality of e v i l . The Romantic's aspiration confronts varying "established dichotomies" which relate directly to Crane's "mystical-empirical" dualism. For Gerard, these dichotomies are found in three areas: "between s p i r i t and matter in ontological thought, between subject and object in the theory of knowledge, between content and form in the sphere of a r t " . 7 Certainly they i l l u s t r a t e instances of the over-riding tension between an empirical, sense-experience based view and a mystical, supra-rational and absolutist one. Crane shared the Romantics' troubled feeling concerning this tension between the "intuition of cosmic unity" and the awareness of individual experiences in fragments of time and sections of space: 55 The fact remains, however, that this intuition of oneness clashed not only with certain assumptions which they were not always eager to shed, but also with the most compelling data of everyday experience.8. The poet's struggle to unite two antagonistic worlds, "to come to terms with the actual condition of man without betraying the ideal conveyed through the visionary experience", i s , then, the heart of the Romantic's dream. The power which realizes a deep a f f i n i t y between a "mystical" out-look and poetic experience i s the imagination, which pursues a direction that i s uncommon, anti-rational or super-rational, and transcendental in nature: The mediating power of the imagination i s , in a sense, an extension of i t s esemplastic power in that the latter combines diverse elements into a coherent, harmonious whole, while the function of the mediating power i s to serve as a link between the known universe and the transcendent realm . . .The tinge of mysticism is undeniable, and equally un-deniable i s the fact that on this point the Romantic poets demand an unquestioning belief, which is often a stumbling-block for the reader of a more practical mind. During the Romantic period, a r t i s t i c creativity became nothing short of a sacred activity, an esoteric communion with a divine fountainhead. To this the ar t i s t was thought to have access because he partook of the creative power of the divinity.9 The transformative force of the imagination could discover the relation-ships between a l l discrete forces, thereby helping the self to realize a more absolute Self. At times, however, this power was misdirected. The attempt at realization of wholeness through balanced vision i s the province of the mature Romantic. More youthful or less realized figures essayed to achieve the "mystical" vision through ignoring the "empirical" condition. This approach, which "consist[s] chiefly in denying or 56 deifying the sensuous world",^ was also a crucial part of Romanticism's influence on Crane. II. High Romanticism Crane's earliest poetry could hardly have been a response to the influence on a f i n de siecle outlook without being at the same time subject to some of the effects of the High Romantic movement. After a l l , f i n de siecle belongs to the direct line of the Romantic tradition, of which i t i s an extreme and somewhat erratic outgrowth. Consequently, Crane's f i r s t poem, "The Moth That God Made Blind", could develop a setting suitable for Oscar Wilde or Beardsley while relying on Shelley's vision for i t s image of the poet as a winged, transcendent being. Shelley's identification of f l i g h t with song in "To a Skylark" ("And singing, s t i l l dost soar/And soaring; ever singest") relates directly to Crane's interpretation of the same theme ("And the torrid hum of great wings was his song"). However, the "desire of the moth for the star" appears in Crane's poem as a fragile yearning of a blind creature lost in a gloomy and semi-grotesque setting. The lamp in Crane's poems (see "Love and a Lamp" and "C33") refers back to the Romantic's conception of the imagination"'"''" found i n Shelley ("When the lamp is shattered"), Wordsworth ("Scorn not the sonnet") and Coleridge ("Christabel"). Crane's lamplight i s , however, a "brief glow" rather than the power of eternal lumination. By 1921, when he was twenty-three years of age, Crane had wearied of his youthful fascination with Swinburne and the Decadents. At that time, he turned directly to the poetry of "Keats, Shelley, Coleridge" 57 (Letters, p.67) for a f u l l e r grasp of the subjectiye and expressive base of Romantic poetry. The High Romantics' search for an understanding of the dualism they experienced and their passionate quest for the wholeness beyond i t obsessed each of the major poets of this movement, i.e., Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Keats and Shelley. Their attempt to explore the subjective and the objective as one, to experience the unity of the emotional and the cognitive via the "form of Knowledge" generated through poetry, culminated in their desire to realize a f u l l "intuition 12 of cosmic unity". This struggle for harmony was explored through an outlook which interprets poetic experience as a "matter-spirit continuum" originating in a belief in s p i r i t u a l i s t i c powers. Each Romantic had his own way of achieving his sense of balance, although the "quasi-mystical experiences that stirred their imaginations had much in common": Although many of the romantic's finest works are poems of vatic assertion, underneath their overt design there runs a more or less conscious, more or less perceptible trend of uncertainty and anguish. It i s true that when they tried to work out the abstract, metaphysical im-plications of their visionary insight, the young romantics resorted to a variety of philosophical attitudes ranging from Coleridge's devout Unitarianism to Shelley's rather ostentatious "atheism". But they had a common proclivity to translate i t in s p i r i t u a l i s t i c terms; their f i r s t impulse was to treat the sense of oneness i t imparted as a unity of substance, and i t is in this sense that we may legitimately speak of Wordsworth's "pantheism" or of Shelley's "idealism". The fact remains, however, that this intuition of oneness clashed not only with certain assumptions which they were not always eager to shed, but also with the most compelling data of everyday experience.^ III. Wordsworth: "Behold the Child" Although Crane responded with excitement and enthusiasm to English Romanticism, nowhere in the Letters does he mention the poet who was the 58 father of this movement, whereas he i s w i l l i n g to stress h i s fondness f o r Keats, Shelley, Coleridge and Blake, and his d i s l i k e for Byron, he remains t o t a l l y s i l e n t about hi s opinion of Wordsworth's very large and very s i g n i f i c a n t contribution to Romantic l i t e r a t u r e . Furthermore, a study of Crane's poetry reveals only the s l i g h t e s t amount of d i r e c t 16 response to the work of this important poetic ancestor. Such an oversight may seem curiously amiss i n a poet who strongly stressed h i s dedication to the Romantic " f a i t h " . Nevertheless, there are reasons that help to explain Crane's general lack of i n t e r e s t i n commenting on Wordsworth. This central figure of the Romantic period was well-known even amongst those who were not too well-educated. His name had reached the point of becoming an i n s t i t u t i o n ; his poetry and i t s derivatives provided the backbone of the l i t e r a t u r e read at home and i n school. Thus, Crane was not overlooking Wordsworth, but was simply taking h i s presence f o r granted. In f a c t , he might w e l l have believed a conscious response to such a well-known poet to be e i t h e r tedious or presumptuous. A more d i r e c t reason for Crane's lack of response to Wordsworth's verse must be based on an unsympathetic attitude toward i t s rather d i s -cursive nature. When compared with the e f f o r t s of other Romantic poets, Wordsworth's comes closest to r e g i s t e r i n g the most comfortable panthe-i s t i c p o s i t i o n . His proximity to the eighteenth century world and i t s stress on order and c l a r i t y influenced the shape of his Romanticism 59 towards "right reason". Wordsworth does not forget "moral purpose" or the "intellectual eye" in his pursuit of "pure imagination, and of love". His interest in the effects of social l i f e on defining man's nature, his concern with duty and with the aspect of the imagination that i s oriented towards "steadfast laws", separates him from the other Romantics, who were more "mystical"-minded in their pursuit of an interior visionary l i f e uninhibited by too much reason or too many laws of proportion. Crane's interpretation of Wordsworth's self-satisfied optimism would have been exaggerated and distorted since the poems that were favourites at the time of his childhood and youth would s t i l l be chosen by the vestigial controls of a nineteenth-century opinion of poetic values. The more troubled works were overlooked for those of "inspirational" value. However, recent criticism has suggested that Wordsworth's position i s not to be accepted at face value since i t rests more on a foundation of "symbolic perception" than might be i n i t i a l l y 17 apparent. This "symbolic perception" would hardly have found much following amongst the Wordsworthians of Crane's day. The way in which Crane's poetry presents themes that are common in Wordsworth shows how i t grows out of the earlier poet's version of Romanticism, but in new directions. For example, "Garden Abstract" presents a moment of ecstatic nature-worship that verges on pantheism. The poem, which exposes a moment of surrender to nature, carries strong overtones of Eve's fascination with the prospect of eternal wisdom and of Daphne's f i n a l succumbing to Apollo. Here the woman and the natural world come closer and closer together, u n t i l by the end of the poem they 60 arrive at a complete fusion of identities. Because the woman's i n -dividual nature has been annihilated, her personal vision and voice i s lost in the "hypnagogic" ecstacy of the experience: The bough has caught her breath up, and her voice, Dumbly articulate i n the slant and rise Of branch on branch above her, blurs her eyes. This merging with the god-like power of the tree causes her to disappear completely as an entity in the concordant forces of the natural world: And so she comes to dream herself the tree, The wind possessing her, weaving her young veins Crane's portrayal of "mystical" absorption i n nature i s not without i t s own symbolical overtones. He i s less satisfied than Wordsworth i s with viewing nature as the prime mover of man's thoughts: A motion and a s p i r i t , that impels A l l thinking things, a l l objects of a l l thought, And r o l l s through a l l things ("Tintern Abbey", 11.100-102) Crane's natural force i s equated with the sexual power of the male, i n the suggestive image of the tree as phallus and bearer of the f r u i t of 18 forbidden knowledge. The male sexual power can only be possessed once the " I " i s clearly possessed by i t , worshipping i t as i t s "prisoner". The overtones of "possessing" i n Crane's work suggests a Dionysiac, i f not demonic, ecstacy which i s certainly alien to Wordsworth's salutory interpretation of Nature's role. For Wordsworth, "Nature never did betray/The heart that loved her". Nature and the earth are frequently interpreted in his poetry as feminine influences or as guardians: 61 The guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul Of a l l my mortal being C'Tintern Abbey", 11. 110-111) or a teacher: Come forth into the light of things, Let Nature be your Teacher. For Crane, on the other hand, the external world could never be so completely a parent, because of i t s h o s t i l i t y to the inner self, i t s apparent lack of interest in man outdone only by i t s moments of cruel destructiveness. While, like Coleridge, he strove to "make the external internal, the internal external", Crane experienced a feeling of the breakdown between the two experiences as well as the fascination with immersing himself completely in one or the other. Thus the apple, which represents the natural world and the power of male generation, i s a "mimic of the sun", Crane's symbol of external experience. The female side of his being, i.e., the poet's nature, desires the apple but i t can only have i t i f i t surrenders completely to the masculine side. Eve's need to choose between the Tree of Knowledge and Paradise i s reflected in the poet's choice between the internal or the external world. The loss that i s a consequence of Eve's decision i s , of course, his as well. Thus, the trusting relationship between the "mystical" and "empirical" aspects of l i f e i s not an evident aspect of Crane's outlook. Although their motives for their disbelief were different, Crane shared Blake's position of refusing to accept Wordsworth's beneficent nature and his confidence in i t s interfusion with the soul that leads to a nearly pantheistic outlook: 62 How exquisitely the individual Mind (And the progessive powers perhaps no less Of the whole species) to the external world Is fitted-—and how exquisitely, t o o — Theme this but l i t t l e heard of among men The external World i s f i t t e d to the Mind. ("Prospectus" to "The Excursion", 11.63-68) Blake's annotation to this passage reflected his rejection of the natural religion that i t suggests: "You shall not bring me down to believe such f i t t i n g and f i t t e d . I know better & please your Lord-19 ship". According to Blake, the confusion of nature with vision was one of the worst fallacies of the secularized eighteenth century out-look. Crane also wanted to make a diaphane of nature, to see through and beyond i t . Through his symbols and through his optimistic belief in man's visionary powers, he struggled to realize a sense of assurance of the eventual interfusion of physical and spiritual experience. His favourite symbol of the bridge manifests his search for such a synthesis. But he also realized the dichotomizing powers in the world and the threats to a belief i n such a balance. His distrust of nature, which would not allow him to believe so f u l l y in this congruent relationship of empirical and mystical experience, was based on an antagonism to the behaviourist outlook of modern science which would reduce man to an automaton. In reality, Wordsworth was not a completely positive poet. Cer-tainly his outlook was not so facil e that he persisted in an unawareness of the nature of e v i l in the world. His poems are frequently r e a l i s t i c statements of the gloomy nature of man's l i f e . What Gerard says of "The Thorn" i s true of much of Wordsworth's poetry: 63 What stirred his poetic faculty has nothing to do with the shallowness of concrete facts, of legal guilt, of class struggle, or of institutional abuses: his theme was the fallen condition of man.20 The tone throughout Wordsworth's work i s , then, hardly one of thorough optimism. Unlike Crane's sp i r i t u a l father, Whitman, he was "not asser-21 tive . . . but tentative and exploratory" throughout much of his writing. Although Crane may not have been completely aware of the hesitant aspect of Wordsworth's optimism, he certainly responded to his portrait of the fragile wisdom of the pre-rational childhood world. Both poets present images of youth as a precarious state, about to be threatened by the world that would either deprive i t of i t s perfect innocence or reveal i t s previously unnoticed imperfection. In "Voyages I", the children can enjoy their innocence unscathed, as long as they keep within their limits: . . . but there i s a line You must not cross nor ever trust beyond i t Spry cordage of your bodies to caresses Too lichen-faithful from too wide a breast. The bottom of the sea i s cruel. ("Voyages I", 11. 12-16) "Lichen-faithful" sounds the note of "like unfaithful", the true nature of the world that surrounds them and threatens to destroy their Eden. The speaker advises the children to preserve their naivete by remaining within the confines of their sheltered and innocent world. In this way, they w i l l escape the pains that l i e at the "bottom of the sea", i.e., at the very end of their attempt to sound the spiritual depth of their lives. There i s no chance that this warning w i l l be heeded, however. 64 Once the children mature, they w i l l feel.the need to find a greater understanding of their purpose, beyond that proyided by their prelap-sarian world. As their own desires and ambititions enlarge, they w i l l yearn to explore the unknown depths of love, which contains annihilation and suffering ("I/Must f i r s t be lost in fa t a l tides") in the midst of i t s most ecstatic moments. In the adult world, gain depends on i t s counterpart, loss. Wordsworth's image of the child presents him as an i n f i n i t e l y wise creature, "the father of the man", but liv i n g a pre-carious existence which w i l l soon be threatened by his maturing into a world larger than his innocence: "Shades of the prison-house begin to close/Upon the growing boy". In both poets, the surrendering of this innocence i s as unavoidable as the suffering that follows i t . Both also believe i n a new wisdom, a "strength in what remains behind", or the "unbetrayable reply", which gratifies their painful search. This new wisdom presents them with a new version of innocence, less unchallenged than the other but also more stable and more profound. Wordsworth seems morally on guard always to reaffirm man's position as one " t r a i l i n g clouds of glory", no matter how fallen he has become. The situation was more hazardous for Crane. As much as he would have liked to believe i n such a destiny, he f e l t the continued presence of e v i l and of loss. At times, his dream of renewed innocence seemed either an unattainable goal or a mere i l l u s i o n . "Love", for Crane, may become "A burnt match 22 skating i n a urinal". Thus, whereas he frequently shared Wordsworth's faith, he experienced a much more devastating doubt. 65 The most obvious point of comparison between Crane's and Words-worth's work is found in their poems, "The Idiot" and "The Idiot Boy", studies of the primitive innocent soul, wise beyond reason. In both cases, the boys are "Above a l l reason", although Crane's youth i s not so ignorant of sex as Wordsworth's would be: The boy straggling under those mimosas, daft With squint lanterns i n his head, and i t ' s l i k e l y Fumbling his sex. (Crane, "The Idiot", 11. 2-4) Although both of them are "alone", they have a world beyond the discur-sive and "trespass" vision of the normal man. Wordsworth's poem has been discussed as a comic work, or as a work which delights in celebrat-ing motherly love. However, the narrator i s too obscure to be believed. Certainly there i s a good deal of irony implied in this "psychological 23 poem". This narrator, lik e Crane's, is one who intrudes on a world he does not comprehend: Johnny was sent for the doctor, but instead spent his time in the moonlight and by the waterfall and listening to the owls, and the poem proves him to have been right. When his mother forgot to send the doctor, she did just what her ^ child had done before her, and nature blessed them both. In "The Idiot Boy", Susan Gale is cured not because of some medical treatment but because of nature's kindness to those who trust in her and who give way to their most honest feelings. Crane's narrator, on the other hand, i s repelled by the boy ("I hurried by") and yet fascinated as well ("Passed him again"). While his idiot does not have the same "direct l i n e " to nature that Wordsworth's has, both boys belong to a world clearly separate from reason, and "above" i t . Both poets glorify the Romantic principle of the supremacy of innocence above and beyond reason. 66 25 IV. Coleridge: "The Mariner's Trance" Coleridge was a poet who interested Crane greatly, from the time of his f i r s t mention of him in 1921, through the period of the composition of The Bridge. Crane called him "Kubla Khan" (Letters, p.353) because he thought of him as the poet of exotic, magical dreams that led to the "mystical" world beyond, with i t s "sacred river", "caverns measureless" and i t s "sunless sea". Coleridge's experiments with opium in his search for a visionary world made him an adventurer in Crane's eyes. Of course, the great voyage was to be found in "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner", a sea-poem which developed the theme of the death and regeneration of the imagination. Crane's debt to this poem i s reflected i n his l y r i c s of the sea. In "Voyages", the "chilled albatross's white immutability" suggests Coleridge's "pious bird of good omen", a symbol of the s p i r i -tual power of the imagination. In "Cutty Sark" the subject's meeting with the strange half-mad mariner repeats the story of the narrator's meeting with the "ancient mariner" in Coleridge. Even the rhythm of the f i r s t two lines i n each of the poems suggests this echo: I met a man i n South Street, t a l l ("Cutty Sark") It i s an ancient Mariner ("The Rime of the Ancient Mariner") The "landscape of leaning ice" i n "North Labrador", Crane's symbol for the world without imagination, finds i t s parallel i n Coleridge's south 26 pole, the land where "ice was a l l between". Lewis has compared Crane's use of the wind in "Repose of Rivers" with Coleridge's symbolic wind in "Dejection: an Ode". This "Wind", which symbolizes the s p i r i -tual power of inspiration, plays on the poet's imagination ("this Aeolian lute"). It i s also the power that blows the mariner home, following the breaking of the curse. In fact, both poets shared more than one of the central Romantic metaphors for the powers of the imagina-tion. The image of a l l animated nature as "organic Harps" in "The Aeolian Harp" also compares with Crane's image of the bridge as a "harp", since for both poets the discovery of "one intellectual breeze" which would play such an instrument exposed the "myth to God" in the "curve-ship", the pantheistic "Soul of each, and God of a l l " that was so much a central obsession with Coleridge. Crane's composition of The Bridge involved him in sharing more than a few Coleridgean images, however. While preparing the poem for publication, he decided to imitate the "gloss notes" found in "the version of 'The Ancient Mariner' as printed in the Oxford Anthology" (Letters, p.343). For Crane, this interpretative marginal commentary was a "great help i n binding together" the theme which he wanted to explore in the central section, "Powhatan's Daughter". He also used the Coleridgean technique in "Ava Maria" since he explained that " i t simply silhouettes the scenery before the colors arrive to inflame i t . . ." (Letters, p.343). Neither poet restricts the device to func-tioning as a mere narrational pointer. Whereas i t d i s t i l l s the informa-tion provided i n the poem i t s e l f , the marginal notation also suggests that there is another level of significance which may be otherwise lost to the reader. Crane's marginal notes develop the submerged dream of the American continent and explore in abstracted, timeless phrasing, 68 the authenticity of Pokahontas' role as the image of that continent. The gloss notes i n Coleridge also allow him the omniscient viewpoint of timeless objectivity, which can expose the additional implications in the poem at the same time as i t summarizes the external action. While he talks about how the mariner's k i l l i n g of the bird i s the slaying of his own "good luck" and can mention how the crew members "make themselves accomplices in the crime", he can also refer his reader to "the learned Jew, Josephus, and the Platonic Constantinopo-l i t a n , Michael Psellous" in order to suggest the philosophic overtones which he i s developing in the poem. Crane was fascinated by "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" because i t explored the sea not only as physical setting but as a symbol of the noumenal aspects of human experience. The mariner, "Alone on a wide wide sea", was faced with a conflict between the unknown destructive and creative elements of a hidden world. Because of i t s huge formlessness, i t s unsounded depths and i t s a b i l i t y to act as a mirror to the rest of the universe, both i n i t s reflective powers and i t s changeability, the sea functions as a symbol that manifests the nature of the occult aspect of man's existence. Both Coleridge and Crane recognized the ambivalent nature of sea-voyages as journeys back to "the prerational sense of the world", wherein man encountered a dream state beyond logic or reason. As a physical setting, the sea suggests the huge external,universe before which stands the dwarfed and inconsequential self. More signi-ficantly, however, i t functions as a clue to the nature of the unknown universe within. The sea, with i t s many ambiguous faces, i s a multi-faceted hieroglyph that must be experienced to be understood. It i s the 69 "great wink of eternity" i n Crane's "Voyages" which generates a language of a cosmic order ("whose diapason knells/On scrolls of silver snowy sentences") that would expose the invisible noumenal world to man. Coleridge's interpretation of the sea as a clue to the "mystical" world behind the "empirical" one is evident in the epigraph to his poem: "Facile credo, plures esse Naturas invisibiles quam v i s i b i l e s in rerum universitate". This epigraph states that i t is a good idea for the "soul to contemplate as in a picture the image of a larger and better world". Such contemplation is achieved through the power of the imagina-tion to generate symbols. V. "Sign Manifest": Crane and Coleridge's Poetic Crane was aware of Coleridge's theories of poetry through his reading of the poet and of I.A. Richards' Principles of Literary Criticism. He called the latter "a great book" (Letters, p. 314) since i t got "to bed rock" on a subject that was central to his own art. Richards' discussion of the imagination i s , of course, indebted to Coleridge. He also mentions that Coleridge i s a poet who "takes the 27 step into mysticism unhesitatingly". Coleridge recognized the power in symbols which allows them to convey "an idea, in the highest sense of 28 that word". For this reason, he employed them in his poetry not as technical devices but as the language of inspiration, an occult or "mystic-aesthetic" way which leads to a comprehension of the most sublime orders of experience. Thus, in The Statesman's Manual, he defined a symbol as a medium "characterized by a translucence of the special in the individual, or of the general in the special, or of the 70 universal in the general; above a l l by the translucence of the eternal 29 through and i n the temporal". In his Notebooks, his definition of a symbol as a "language for something within me that already and forever 30 exists" t e s t i f i e s to his belief i n i t s special powers as a key to a hidden, eternal world. For Crane, the symbolic function of poetry was found in i t s role as "the real connective experience, the very 'sign manifest' on which rests the assumption of godhead" (Letters, p. 237). He believed that the poet's power of generating these symbols was beyond the control of the individual's volition: The actual fleshing of a concept so complex and d i f f i c u l t . . . as to be quite beyond the immediate avail of w i l l or int e l l e c t . A fusion with other factors not so easily named is the condition of fulfilment. It is alright to c a l l this 'possession' i f you w i l l , only i t should not be insisted that i t s operation denies the simultaneous functioning of a strong c r i t i c a l faculty. (Letters, p.245) In "Possessions" the way to "pure possession" involved the poet i n casting off the "assaults" of the flesh by d i s t i l l i n g a l l of i t s moments and suffering them. After having managed to "accumulate such moments to an hour", the poet's agony "on smoked forking spires" brings him to a catharsis, whereby he i s r i d of a l l but the lapis philosophorum, the "bright stones wherein our smiling plays". The process in this poem i s a movement away from a lowly existence to a higher form of vision. Whether Crane sought transformation through nature ("Passage"), love ("Voyages") through liquor ("The Wine Menagerie") or mythical reinte-gration of culture and history (The Bridge), his quest involved him i n the "condensed metaphorical habit" (Letters, p.232) which was "an act of 71 faith besides being a communication". The discovery,of the "imaged Word" or the "multitudinous Verb" was the achievement of "conversion of a l l things" that the poet found "imminent in his dream". Such was the pervasive occult powers that the symbol had for Crane. Thus, the echoes of Coleridge in Crane are really symptomatic of a shared pursuit for a "mystic-aesthetic" creativity which would accept the material world and i t s "objects of Nature" before transfusing them through the imagination, Coleridge's "repetition in the f i n i t e mind of 31 the eternal act of creation in the i n f i n i t e I Am", into a "new phaeno-menon". ". . .1 have always an obscure feeling as i f that new phaeno-menon were the dim Awaking of a forgotten or hidden Truth of my inner 32 Nature/It i s s t i l l interesting as a Word, a Symbol!" This most impor-tant influence of Coleridge on Crane arose from the fact that both poets were dealing with the crises of the Romantic's conflict between the inner and outer worlds. Coleridge attempted to interrelate these two r e a l i t i e s through the imagination, which he labelled the "esemplastic power". This power invests man with a God-like control over experience which allows him to recreate the fragmented and dead universe in a unified and alive one: "It dissolves, diffuses, dissipates in order to recreate; or where this process is rendered impossible, yet s t i l l at a l l events i t struggles to idealize and to imply. It is essentially v i t a l , even i f a l l objects (as 33 objects) are essentially fixed and dead". This statement implies that i f the a r t i s t cannot rearrange the world, he may have to re-invent i t himself. In essence, i t broaches the possibility that the world may be 72 only a mental structure. Coleridge had, however, condemned idealism i n Berkeley, since i t "removes a l l reality and immediateness of perception, and places us i n a dream world of phantoms and spectres, the inexplicable swarm and 34 equivocal generation of motions in our own brains". His outlook denied dualism since the "body and s p i r i t are. . . no longer absolutely heterogeneous, but may without any absurdity be supposed to be different 35 modes, or degrees in perfection, of a common substratum". Coleridge had the problem of trying to preserve the Imaginative power's freedom to create at the same time as he was obliged to restrict this freedom to one that avoids poetic apotheosis. His definitions of the Imagination as an "intermediate faculty" always showed the precarious balance of his viewpoint: There are evidently two powers at work, which relatively to each other are active and passive; and this i s not possible without an intermediate faculty, which i s at once both active and passive. (In philosophical language, we must denominate this intermediate faculty i n a l l i t s degrees and determinations, the Imagination. But, in common language, and especially on the subject of poetry, we appropriate the name to a superior degree of the faculty, joined to a superior voluntary control over it.)36 Because of the insecurity of the balance in his vision, Coleridge's poetic inspiration waned and gradually died altogether. In "Dejection: An Ode", the poet feels his "genial s p i r i t s f a i l " . He cannot relate the outward and the inward any more: I may not hope from outward forms to win The passion and the l i f e , whose fountains are within 0 Lady! We receive but what we give, And i n our l i f e alone doth Nature l i v e . 73 Coleridge's view finds i t s only preservation in denying the outward reality for a s o l i p s i s t i c view ("by abstruse research to steal/ From my own nature a l l the natural man"). The decision to cast reality aside ("Hence. . ./ Reality's dark dream!") and to immerse himself only in the imagination's private world ("I turn from you, and l i s t e n to the wind") is hardly a very salutory or convincing conclusion, however. Coleridge's dilemma involves, most centrally, the need both to accept and reject the pantheist's outlook. In "Aeolian Harp", he suggests that each livi n g thing may be given i t s l i f e by one supreme Spirit contained in i t : And what i f a l l of animated nature Be but organic Harps diversely fram'd, That tremble into thought, as o'er them sweeps Plastic and vast, one intellectual breeze, At once the Soul of each, and God of all? In attempting to cope with Cartesian dualism, Coleridge poses pantheism as an answer to reintegrating matter and s p i r i t into a single unified cosmos. But his outlook is essentially uncertain. He only says "what i f " the universe were pantheistic, and is then quickly chided by his wife Sara for indulging in such fantasies. Sara i s representative in the poem of the other half of Coleridge's outlook, the Christian one. Man would, by the f i r s t point of view, be God himself and thus the Christian side is shocked by the belief in human self-worship: Well hast thou said and h o l i l y disprais'd These shapings of the unregenerate mind. The pantheistic approach not only takes on the position of apothe-osizing man but also violates another premise that Coleridge holds valuable—the freedom of w i l l . In "Religious Musings", the "Soul" loses 74 i t s e l f in i t s attempt to center i t s e l f in God: A l l self-annihilated i t shall make God i t s identity: God a l l i n a l l ! We and our father one! The most blessed are those who reject the empirical world, who "patiently ascend/Treading beneath their feet a l l v i s i b l e things". However, i f this God i s to be discovered through Nature as i t s "essence, mind and energy", isn't this abandonment of the vis i b l e world a possible abandon-ment of God himself? Thus, Coleridge remained caught between pantheism and the Christian outlook: And so he bore the pain of conflicting interests rather than choose the anodyne of a solution that did violence to the claims of either side of the conflict.37 Crane's share in the dilemma of the "I am" versus the " i t i s " i s reflected i n poems like "A Name for A l l " and "Stark Major". In the f i r s t of these two works, the poet dreams of a world united and "holy i n one Name always". The God-like unifying force which would suffuse a l l things would cancel death—which a l l must, at present, endure "to under-stand". The f i r s t of these two views i s a pantheistic one, the second one based on Christian eschatology. While the one view would centre a l l things i n an "I Am", the other can only define the distinctions of " i t i s " . In "Stark Major", the separateness of man from woman indicates a divorce of the ego from the "empricial" world. Man has created this separation himself in that his love has roused her to conceive. He "cannot ever reach to share" the suffering and joy ("cries", "ecstacies") of the childbirth which she experiences. Through the dramatic revela-tion of this relationship, Crane symbolizes man's impregnation of the 75 world by the creative power of his imagination. Because he has caused the world to conceive, he has, in effect, contributed the powers neces-sary to give shape and meaning to the external, non-human world. At this point, he finds himself separate, no longer necessary to this world and unable to share in i t s expansion from within. The sun, Crane's reality symbol, intrudes and awakens the lover, causing a "sundering". Once man has loved the world to the point of f e r t i l i z i n g i t , to f u l -f i l l i n g i t s p o s s i b i l i t i e s , i t becomes autotelic, rendering him expen-dable. Although Crane shared Coleridge's ambitious desire to preserve the imagination as an intermediate faculty that would create "symbols of reality", he also experienced a breakdown in i t s balance because i t s "mystical" side became a l l too pervasive. Gradually, throughout his poetic career, he increased his emphasis on the importance of the "postulated 'eternity'" behind the "accidentally defined" ("General Aims 38 and Theories") statement of a "temporal location". The important aspect of a poem was i t s assertion of an "absolute experience", whether i t existed in reality or not: But i t seems evident that certain aesthetic experience. . . can be called absolute, inasmuch as i t approximates a formally convincing statement of a conception or apprehension of l i f e that gains our unquestioning assent, and under the conditions of which our imagination is unable to suggest a further detail consistent with the design of the aesthetic whole. 3 9 This dedication to the absolute generates a poetry which "really cannot 40 be technically explained". The poetry of such an outlook i s meaningful only because i t has Coleridge's "organic form". Since the ideas i n the 76 artist's mind are " ' l i v i n g and. life-producing. . ..'", they are found to 41 be '"essentially one with the germinal causes in nature'". For this reason the artist's creation has the innate organic form which "'shapes and develops i t s e l f from within" 1. When Crane speaks of the "organic impact" of his work, he i s referring to an outlook which, like Coleridge's, i s dangerously near to becoming either chaotic and involuntary or s e l f -generated and self-willed. In "The Wine Menagerie", for example, the pursuit of "new thresholds, new anatomies" leads the poet to a "boozy" vision wherein his own w i l l fragments as he disappears into another's: New thresholds, new anatomies! Wine talons Build freedom up about me and d i s t i l l This competence—to travel in a tear Sparkling alone, within another's w i l l . The order imposed on the poem from without preserves i t from chaos but later works, like "Lenses" or Havana Rose", are merely incoherent self -willed nightmares. Crane's dejection and irresolution in his last poems reflected internal conflicts that he could not resolve. Like Coleridge, he f e l t the confusion between his hopes and the reality which destroyed his belief in poetry. The cruelty of this confusion i s evident in "The Visible the Untrue": The window weight throbs in i t s blind partition. To extinguish what I have of faith. Yes, light. And i t i s always always, always the eternal rainbow And i t is always the day, the farewell day unkind. His declining inspiration followed a pattern similar to Coleridge's. In fact, the dying wind in an early work, "Passage", recalls not only the "Wind" and the poet's imaginative failure i n "Dejection: An Ode" but also forecasts the "want of breath" in his own poem "Q Carib Isle!" and the absence of "breath of friends" in "Key West". Throughout the Key West poems, this wind i s no inspiring force, but a cosmic hurricane of destruction and submission. Crane's attempt i n the post-Bridge poems to find r e l i e f in a private world had ended in self-contradiction, nightmare, or incoherence. In those l y r i c s of Key West where he expressed the "transcending 43 . . . of sex and death", he i s forced to rely on natural symbols from the external world. In essence Crane i s dealing with one heterocosm by way of the symbology of another one. The Palm i s "launched above/ Mortality", the Air Plant an "Angelic Dynamo", with hardly a shadow of i t s own. Both appear, lik e the pure poet, to be free of any but the most minimal dependence on nature. Yet, not only i n spite of but because of these disembodiments, they appear "Forever f r u i t l e s s " or grotesque: Inverted octopus with heavenward arms Thrust parching from a palm-bole hard by the cove. Like Coleridge, then, Crane f e l t both the need to move towards a monistic position as well as the impossibility of doing so. Like Coleridge's "counterfeit i n f i n i t y " and Stevens' "supreme f i c t i o n " , his art of the "multitudinous Verb" was based on conscious deception: . . . Medicine-man, relent, r e s t o r e — Lie to us,—dance us back the t r i b a l morn. 78 References Chapter 3 1 Allen Tate, "Hart Crane", Essays of Four Decades (Chicago: The Swallow Press, Inc., c 1968), p. 322. 2 Ibid., p. 313 3 Ibid., p. 322 4 Harold Bloom, The Ringers in the Tower: Studies in the Romantic Tradition (Chicago: Chicago University Press, c 1971). 5 Ibid., p. 7. Albert S. Gerard, English Romantic Poetry: Ethos, Structure and Symbol i n Coleridge, Wordsworth, Shelley and Keats (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1968), p. 3. 7 Ibid., p. 3. 8 Ibid., p. 6. 9 L i l l i a n R. Furst, Romanticism in Perspective: A Comparative Study of Aspects of the Romantic Movements in England, France and Germany (London: Macmillan, 1969), pp. 147-148. 10 Gerard, p. 6. 11 see Meyer H. Abrams, The Mirror and the Lamp: Romantic Theory and the C r i t i c a l Tradition (New York: W.W. Norton and Company, Inc., 1958). Gerard, p. 5. 13 Ibid., p. 6. 79 14 Ibid, pp. 4-6. 15 William Wordsworth, "Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood", 1. 85, The Norton Anthology of Poetry, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. 1970. 16 Kenneth A. Lohf has provided evidence in his "Library of Hart Crane" that Crane possessed a copy of The Complete Poetical Works by William Wordsworth. Lohf mentions the names of certain poems that are "marked". See Proof: The Yearbook of American Bibliographical .and Textual Studies ed. Joseph Katz, vol. 3, (Columbia, S.C.: University of South Carolina Press, 1973), pp. 283-333. 17 Ge*rard, p. 69 passim 18 This interpretation i s more evident from the early free-verse version of the poem, clearly a pagan homosexual paean: I am a prisoner of the tree And i t s green fingers. Like scimitars The green leaves shine. Like serpent tongues they twine Around the bough, Around the f r u i t . (Weber, p. 76) 19 William Blake, Complete Writings, ed. Geoffrey Keynes (London: Oxford University Press, 1966), p. 784. 20 Gerard, p. 86 21 Ibid, p. 110 22 "The Tunnel", The Complete Poems, p. 110. 23 Donald Ferry, The Limits of Mortality: An Essay on Wordsworth's Major Poems (Middleton, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press, 1959), p. 98. 80 24 Ibid., p. 98. 25 Samuel Taylor Coleridge, "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner", 1 . 1. 429. 26 Lewis, p. 190. 27 I.A. Richards, Principles of Literary Criticism (New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, Inc., 1925), n.p. p. 257. 28 Coleridge, Biographia Literaria (London: Oxford University Press, 1907), Vol. I, p. 100 29 Samuel Taylor Coleridge, "The Statesman's Manual", The Complete Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Vol. I ed. W.G.T. Shedd (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1884), p. 437. 30 Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Notebooks of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1962), Vol. II, 2546. 31 Coleridge, Biographia Literaria, I, p. 202. 32 Coleridge, Notebooks, II, 2546. 33 Biographia Literaria, I, p. 202. 34 Ibid., p. 92. 35 Ibid., p. 88. 36 Ibid., p. 86. 37 Thomas McFarland, Coleridge and the Pantheist Tradition (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1969), p. 107. 81 38 Crane, "General Aims and Theories", The Complete Works, p. 218. 39 Ibid., p. 219. 40 Ibid., p. 222. 41 Abrams, p. 172. 42 Ibid., p. 173. 43 R.W. Butterfield, The Broken Arc: A Study of Hart Crane (Edin-burgh: Oliver and Boyd, 1969), p. 218. 82 CHAPTER IV CRANE AND HIGH ROMANTICISM: SHELLEY AND KEATS In sapphire arenas of the h i l l s I was promised an improved infancy. ("Passage") The works of Keats and Shelley belong to a second wave of High Romanticism which is strongly based on the f i r s t wave created by Words-worth and Coleridge. Since they were strongly influenced by the "mysti-cal" direction of Romantic thought and because they were young poets who never reached a maturity of vision, both Keats and Shelley wrote a poetry which may not be totally unique in conception, but which is original in the power of i t s aspirations. The power of their work is based on the ardour of their great idealism and the eloquence of their passion to express i t . For this reason, their poetry i s marked off from that of the f i r s t Romantics by the boundless s p i r i t of i t s hopes and the crushing sadness of i t s defeats: "The antinomy of the ideal and the real weighed upon them even more harshly than i t did on the author of Tintern A b b e y . T h e appeal of their works to Crane was bound to be great because he, too, was a young poet once more attempting to do battle with the same odds. For Crane, the collapse of the age of faith was proof of the fragmentation of an i d e a l i s t i c outlook: It i s a t e r r i f i c problem that faces the poet today— a world that is so in transition from a decayed culture toward a reorganization of human evaluations that there are few common terms, general denominators of speech that are solid enough or that ring with any vibrations of s p i r i -tual conviction. The great mythologies of the past (including the Church) are deprived of enough facade to even launch good r a i l l e r y against.2 83 Consequently, Keats and Shelley were more aware of the extremes in the conflict between the ideal and the real worlds than Wordsworth and Coleridge were. Because they expressed this conflict from the emotional core of their own beings, they appealed to Crane's equally ambitious attempt to project a poetic vision from his own sensitive and tempera-mental nature. Like these two young Romantics, he realized the bit t e r -ness and joy that such a vision could manifest. Like them, too, he hoped to find a way of achieving a whole vision beyond that of the self, even though the private self would provide the stimulus to such a vision. 3 I. Shelley: "The f r a i l t y of a l l things here" Although Crane's 1921 letter (Letters, p. 67) mentioned Shelley amongst those Romantics who excited his poetic faculties, "The Moth That God Made Blind" shows that he had been drawn to Shelley's i d e a l i s t i c vision at the very earliest stage of his poetic career. The similarity between Shelley's skylark and Crane's moth might seem coincidental i f the relation between fl i g h t and song were not an important part of both poems. Beyond his mere early imitation and celebration of Shelley, however, Crane was also absorbed by an issue that troubled the most a i r -borne of Romantics. Shelley's quest for the "mystical" world beyond accident or mortality led him towards an outlook that approached the extreme of solipsism. Shelley's poetry reflected his increasing urge to create his own world of the imagination, unconstrained by the "empirical" law which he epitomized in one paradoxical phrase: "Nought may endure but Mutability" (p. 523). Nevertheless, from a very early stage in his career he was aware of the implicit dangers of this quest. Crane was to 84 experience similar urges and temptations throughout his poetic career. In "Alastor; or The Spirit of.Solitude" (pp. 14-30), written when he was only twenty-three, Shelley had already insisted that the rejec-tion of the "empirical" world for one of his own making i s destructive of the poet's powers. He condemns the " s p i r i t of solitude" because i t leads the poet to an unfruitful, selfish l i f e , where he i s no longer kindred with the "beloved brotherhood" which includes both the rest of mankind and the "earth, ocean, a i r " (line 1). Without this kinship, the poet loses his "natural piety" (line 3), a tr a i t which Shelley found celebrated in Wordsworth's poetry. As Alastor's quest becomes more and more fantastic, his situation increases in i t s isolated i r r e a l i t y , culminating i n a wish for death: It w i l l be readily perceived that the whole process runs directly counter to the Platonic scheme, which passes from admiration for physical beauty to the appreciation of intellectual and ethical beauty, and ends with f u l f i l -ment in the mystic contemplation of the transcendent Idea of Beauty. In i t s rapid shifting from the ideal to the corporeal and thence to frustration, the Alastor vision sets a pattern which prefigures the entire course of the poet's doom.^ Shelley recognized that the poet's quest for a world "higher s t i l l and higher" (p. 602) would result in i t s antithesis, i f the poet based his solitary dreams on his denial of the external world and of the rest of humanity. The poet in "Alastor" has experienced "solemn vision" and "strong inspiration." He has seen the "inaccessible" and has been Nature's companion in her explorations of the unknown. But his vision becomes "languid" lik e his dreams, "ineffable" as the tale of the "veiled maid", 85 and as f u l l of "excess" as his love. Eventually, his being becomes a "passive" one. Shelley demonstrates that the "mystical" vision of transcendence is achieved only through a "syncretic" outlook, not through solipsism. In "The Moth That God Made Blind", Crane's poet figure shares the same fate as Alastor because he too i s a creature from a s o l i p s i s t i c world. A silent and motionless oblivion is the pervasive atmosphere at the end of the poem. Crane's return to this s o l i p s i s t i c outlook in his lonely and anti-human poems of the post-Bridge period indicates his inab i l i t y to preserve the moral of his early work: the collapse of the transcendent outlook without a foothold in reality. In "Key West", he is forced to deny his membership in humanity in order to find his way to his state of "mystical quiescence":^ Here has my salient faith annealed me. Out of the valley, past the ample crib To skies impartial, that do not disown me Nor claim me, either, by Adam's spine—nor r i b . ("Key West") His decision to abandon his dream of "mystic" America ("a dead conclu-sion") leads him to a "frugal noon" existence without "breath of friends." The outlook of such a poem controverts Crane's earlier optimistic vision of the "multitudinous" nature of the poetic "Verb". In "0 Carib Isle!", there i s "nothing here/Below" since God, "the Captain", is missing and his abstracted "Carib mathematics", the universe at i t s lowest common denominator of energy and l i f e , destroys the poet's vision ("web the eyes' baked lenses!".) The poet's death is the shell-amulet which Satan, the negater, gives him in order to save him from the poverty of 86 an existence in a world where man i s ghost, and God "the blue comedian's host": You have given me the shell, Satan,—carbonic amulet Sere of the sun exploded in the sea. The word "sere" of course puns on the willed destruction of the "seer" who wishes to escape the i n f e r t i l e death-in-life existence on earth. These poems are remarkable and b r i l l i a n t l y evocative statements of the poet's wish for death. The destructiveness of their Godless and misan-thropic view upset the balance of Crane's inspiration, however. The poems that followed them were not only statements of self-annihilation but were self-annihilating in themselves. Because of his early acceptance of an atheistic position, Shelley's search for "some other absolute or absolutes" led him to defining a pantheistic monism wherein God functioned as "the world-soul, the infused mind animating the material universe."*' Since he could not remain content with a dualistic position, he searched for a way of bringing mind and matter together as one undifferentiated power through positing the existence of this all-suffering world soul. Although Wordsworth and Coleridge had played with a belief in such a power, their outlook never reached the definitive stage of idealism that Shelley's did. Because he lacked the Christian spirit-matter distinction in his outlook, the existence of an all-embracing s p i r i t that denied this distinction was a strong possibility for him. Shelley's repudiation of materialism brought him to a position where "being and mind, inasmuch as mind i s i t s aware-ness of i t s e l f , are interchangeable terms."7 There was, i n fact, a greater potential danger for Shelley than for his predecessors that he 87 would accept an Alastor-like position. Although Shelley 1s poetic quest did not culminate in a, conclusive philosophic stand, i t brought him to a fu l l e r understanding of the province of the poetic act. Therefore, he did not transmogrify this position into a s o l i p s i s t i c one simply by saying that the mind generates i t s own reality. In order to be known, reality must be perceived, although this perception in fact depends on the mind to give i t existence: The mind is intuitively conscious of i t s e l f and sensorily aware of those received percepts that we c a l l the 'external' world; and these awarenesses, taken together, constitute rea l i t y to the individual mind. Eventually, the complex is realized without i t s parts being separated out, since the mind is both a sensory and conscious organ at one and the same time. Thus, for Shelley, the distinction between the world and the self 9 are but mere illusions, created by our "immersion in mortal existence." Neither one nor the other alone generates reality. Like Shelley, Crane dreamed of an undifferentiated position wherein the world-spirit tension would be subsumed. However, he could not accept a view based on defin-ing the material world as i l l u s i o n . Although he f e l t himself a victim of the "empirical" world, he also depended on i t for his i n s p i r a t i o n . 1 0 The sense of the complete inter-dependence of the two worlds could be evoked i n his poetry, but only as the climactic balance of tension that had to be continually sought after and re-balanced each time he began another poetic quest. At times, however, Shelley's achievement of the unified vision of a monist view grows out of a Neoplatonic outlook 88 similar to the gradual discovery of wholeness i n Crane: Look steadily—how the wind feasts and spins The brain's disk shivered against lust. Then watch While darkness, like an ape's face, f a l l s away, And gradually white buildings answer day. ("Recitative") This outlook i s evident in "To a Skylark", wherein the bird's movement to "Heaven" or a place "near i t " i s the establishment of an "unbodied joy" beyond premeditation or satiety; Higher s t i l l and higher From the earth thou springest Like a cloud of f i r e ; (p. 602) Crane's "Recitative" and Shelley's "Mont Blanc" (pp. 532-535) both deal with the poet's attempt to arrive at the monist's position in a link between two incomplete halves of man's existence. Crane's poem explores the subject of man's dual nature, and i t s resistance to the achievement of a unity which i t depends upon in order to exist in any complete way. Each side i s a "fragment" or a "brother i n the half" to the other. The "vibrant mercury" i s the poetic half which mirrors in i t s e l f the "half of Humanity" (Letters, p.176). For Crane, the two sides of man's nature come together because the imagination provides the essential fusion. It i s both the mirror and the wind which "abides the ensign of your w i l l . " In Shelley, "human thought" emanates from some large source: The everlasting universe of things Flows through the mind, and r o l l s i t s rapid waves, Now dark—now glittering—now reflecting gloom— Now lending splendourj where from secret springs The source of human thought i t s tribute brings Of waters,—r-with a sound but half i t s own. (lines 1-6) 89 The same "alternating rhythm" found in Crane exists between this uni-verse and the mind. While the mind may act as ,its creator since i t holds a l l of i t s elements together in a harmonized whole, the universe may also have a role in creating the mind: My own, my human mind, which passively Now renders and receives fast influencings, Holding an unremitting interchange With the clear universe of things around. (lines 37-40) While the earth, stars and sea would be nothing without the "human mind's imaginings" (line 143), even the naked earth can "teach the adverting mind" (line 100). Both of these poems are therefore searching for a unity which does not deny the authority of either side of man's nature. While Crane did not turn to Shelley's belief in any single power above and beyond this division, he stressed the interdependence and the fusion of inner and outer worlds in one "single stride" ("Recitative"). Crane believed in a power like Shelley's "secret Strength of things" (line 139) which could generate the joint mirror-image of two souls. Instead of pursuing a pantheistic force as the source of this unity, however, Crane found i t in the "imaged Word" (Voyages, VI") of the imagination i t s e l f . Although they could not agree on the source of unified vision, Crane nevertheless shared Shelley's view that mutability would even-tually disappear within the larger province of continuity. The structure of The Bridge is based on the cycle of mythical regeneration. Whether the terms are folk-lore or history, romance or industry, dream or actu-a l i t y , Crane sees lurking behind the "multitudinous" nature of experi-90 ence a "synergy" that i s constantly pursuing i t s g o a l , to "ever fuse, recast/ In myriad syllables" the one "Verb" or "pervasive,Paradigm." In "Voyages", the theme of the discoyery of the constancy within inconstancy i s handled in the structuring of the "plot" of the love affair along Blakean lines of innocence—experience—higher innocence. The subject's desire to lose himself in the cosmic powers of love i s expressed i n a language of urgency and desire, where commands are trans-formed into prayers: Mark how her turning shoulders wind the hours, And hasten while her penniless rich palms Pass superscription of bent foam and wave,— Hasten, while they are true,—sleep, death, desire Close round one instant in one floating flower. In this stanza, the speaker indicates that he i s aware that the sea, the symbol of man's limitless s p i r i t u a l love, w i l l not always be true. Thus, he must hurry to realize his "instant" of perfection in a world beyond the earthly one: Bind us in time, 0 Seasons clear, and awe. 0 minstrel galleons of Carib f i r e , Bequeath us to no earthly shore u n t i l Is answered in the vortex of our grave The seal's wide spindrift gaze toward paradise. The failure of this love which attempts to unite the mutable in the immutable stems from the i l l u s i o n on which i t i s based. Although i t has > been a "mingling" of "mutual blood", the speaker "must f i r s t be lost i n fatal tides" in order to preserve i t from destruction. Because he has not reached this, state, his love is betrayed and changed: 91 . . . . For we Are overtaken. Now no cry, no sword Can fasten or deflect this t i d a l wedge, Slow tyranny of moonlight, moonlight loved And changed . . . . 'There's Nothing like this in the world', you say, Knowing I cannot touch your hand and look Too, into that godless cl e f t of sky Where nothing turns but dead sands flashing. '—And never to quite understand!' No, In a l l the argosy of your bright hair I dreamed Nothing so flagless as this piracy. In order to achieve the immutable vision of his love, the speaker must die to materiality and then look for a resurrection ("the sky/And harbor of the phoenix' breast") beyond physical passion and desire. Although his love began as an earthly force, i t s cool perfection can only be realized i f i t becomes the "imaged Word." Nevertheless, the earthly mutable experience and i t s failure to achieve the eternal state have been crucial to the achievement of a higher vision, since the speaker's suffering of this failure has made him recognize that there i s a love that transcends a l l limitations of the flesh. In essence, love must realize the immortal powers i t contains before i t can realize that i t i s contained by immortal powers. In his early poems, Shelley expressed his awareness of the ever-presence of change and death in a "world of hate" ("To Harriet',' p. 522) where man's "state/Is strange and f u l l of doubt and fear" ("To Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin," p. 522). Even at this time, however, he hunted for something beyond death which would free him from the pains of "Mutability." The passivity of man's l i f e i n the "empirical" world arid 92 the ironic sameness of a l l the difference and inconstancy which, he experienced troubled him: We are as clouds that v e i l the midnight moon; How restlessly they speed, and gleam, and quiver, Streaking the darkness radiantly!—yet soon Night closes round, and they are lost for ever: Or lik e forgotten lyres, whose dissonant strings Give various response to each varifying blast, To whose f r a i l frame no second motion brings One mood or modulation lik e the last. ("1816 Mutability", p. 523) According to Shelley, death seemed terrifying to man because i t stops the condition of change which i s the guiding principle of his existence. It thus seems to be a cruel and terrifying force that must be evaded for as long as destiny w i l l allow. However, Shelley explains that only those without nobility in l i f e should fear the absence of nobility i n death. Man must realize for himself what the power of mutability signifies: Thus solemnized and softened, death i s mild And terrorless as this serenest night. ("A Summer Evening Churchyard," p. 525) Shelley's suggestion that man w i l l pass to an immutable futurity i n d i -cates that this world i s only the v e i l hiding the next one: This world i s the nurse of a l l we know, This world i s the mother of a l l we feel, And the coming of death i s a fearful blow To a brain unencompassed with nerves of steel; When a l l that we know, or fee l , or see, Shall pass like an unreal mystery. ("On Death", p. 523) In a maturer work, "Ode to the West Wind," the poet, in fact, sees his fusion with the Wind's power as the realization of a pattern of l i f e -death-rebirth similar to that found in the natural world: 93 Oh, l i f t me as a wave, a leaf, a cloud! I f a l l upon the thorns of l i f e ! I bleed! A heavy weight of hours has chained and bowed One too like thee: tameless, and swift, and proud. V Make me thy lyre, even as the forest i s : What i f my leaves are f a l l i n g like i t s own! The tumult of thy mighty harmonies Will take from both a deep, autumnal tone, Sweet though in sadness. Be thou, Spirit Fierce, My s p i r i t ! Be thou me, impetuous one! Drive my dead thoughts over the universe Like withered leaves to quicken a new birth! (p. 579) For Shelley, this renewal is also an imaginative one, since the "uncon-trollable" Wind is an "unseen presence" which is both "destroyer and preserver" at one and the same time. In the last years of his l i f e , Shelley's attitude towards the mutable nature of l i f e darkened and saddened. Like the early poem of the same t i t l e , the 1821 "Mutability" shows how man i s , once more, a victim of irrevocable change: Whilst skies are blue and bright, Whilst flowers are gay, Whilst eyes that change ere night Make glad the day; Whilst yet the calm hours creep, Dream thou—and from thy sleep Then wake to weep. (p. 641) At this time, Shelley had f e l t that the "Spirit of Delight" ("Song", p. 640) was becoming one of his rarest v i s i t o r s . Eventually he f e l t that joy would "never more" ("A Lament", p. 643) be his, because, while 94 nature was renewable, the main forces in, man's existence were not: Af t e r the slumber of the year The woodland v i o l e t s reappear; A l l things revive i n f i e l d or grove, And sky and sea, but two, which move And form a l l others, l i f e and love. ("To— 1 1, p. 646) In the l a s t years of h i s l i f e , with h i s "lamp" ( i . e . , the imagination) "shattered" (p. 667), Shelley f e l t himself scorned by l i f e and abandoned to i t s destructive powers. Any attempts to recapture peace i n immuta-b i l i t y were f a l s e because the " s p i r i t i n t e r f u s e d " gave the poet only a cheating momentary t r a n q u i l l i t y : Less o f t i s peace i n Shelley's mind, Than calm i n waters, seen. ("To Jane: The Re c o l l e c t i o n " , p. 670) While Crane a l s o experienced the same drive to f i n d a s t i l l point i n a f r a n t i c and Godless world, and while h i s power to do so also f a i l e d i n h i s l a t e r work, he could never quite s u c c e s s f u l l y envision the et e r -n a l power as a disembodied s p i r i t that informed a l l of l i f e , since h i s outlook was based on the acceptance of C h r i s t i a n i t y and the ass e r t i o n of "empir i c a l " r e a l i t y as a base of human experience. The ideas of "extinc-t i o n and beatitude" which Winters finds basic to Crane's r o l e of "enthu-s i a s t i c p a n t h e i s t i c a l mystic""'"1 represent a c o n f l i c t of views that the poet never managed to c l a r i f y . The problem i s the one that Winters diagnosed when he stated that Crane " r e f e r s to an idea which he cannot 12 define and which probably never had even p o t e n t i a l existence." More fundamental was the problem of fusing contradictory views which grow out of two mutually exclusive epistemologies: the C h r i s t i a n one which does not deny matter but would sacramentalize i t through the power of the 95 Incarnation, Crucifixion, and Resurrection i n order to restore a fa l l e n world, and a Gnostic one which would expose matter as i l l u s i o n or as the absence of s p i r i t . C r i t i c s of Romanticism continue to confront basic contradictions in i t s outlook which are d i f f i c u l t to explain. Because i t discourages rational systematization in favor of acknowledgement of an organic whole, i t s outlook resists a l l efforts to give i t precise definition. Indeed, contradictions appear to be basic to the explanation of what Romanticism is a l l about. Possibly the understanding of i t s combination of antagonistic premises of faith, namely a Christian and a Gnostic one, may help to explain this unresolved opposition. From the beginning of Christian times, Gnosticism existed as a heresy which undermined the teachings that stressed the importance of 13 Christ's incarnation and his suffering. The Gnostic did not follow the Christian's pattern of salvation, since he refused to admit the reality of matter and of sin in his pursuit of his soul's "absorption into i t s source:" Indeed, the view of God and man which i t implied often led to the denial of the reality of Christ's sufferings and sometimes of the incarnation. Creation was an accident, a mistake, even the malevolent act of an antigod. Resurrection and judgement were re-inte-grated to refine their 'crudities.' Sin had become a defilement which could be sloughed off The Romantic's belief in his powers as seer often led him to envision himself as a free creator who had complete control at least over his yerbal universe. His poems, which emanated from a God-like power within him, appeared to have a purity of knowledge which was a l l their own. 96 Thus his art was a repetition of the i n f i n i t e act of creation i n the fi n i t e mind. At times, the distinction narrowed almost into non-exist-ence. The "mystical"-minded elements of Romanticism, particularly found in i t s pursuit of a world of unity beyond earthly fragmentation and i t s fostering of a pantheistic outlook, which suffused the material world, often led the Romantic towards a point of view which envisioned redemp-tion as "the soul's escape from corporeal defilement.""'""' Both the tales of "Endymion" and "Alastor" dabble in such notions, as do Coleridge's "The Aeolian Harp" and Wordsworth's "Ode: Intimations of Immortality." In each case, however, the reality of the "empirical" world returns to the poet in order to challenge the dangerous pride of such a view or to ground i t in the drama of human passion. In spite of their search for a "mystical" viewpoint, their individualism and their need to communicate through art brought them back to a Christian outlook. This outlook envisioned man's l i f e as fallen and i t s e l f illusory, although i t was working toward redemption through an understanding of the disparity between i t s actuality and i t s aspirations. The contradiction between a Gnostic and a Christian view may thus be basic to Romanticism, since these two teachings present the fluctuations in faith which an a r t i s t , dedicated to achieving his " i n f i n i t e F i n i t e n e s s , " F i n i t e Infinity,""^ 18 "supreme f i c t i o n " or "multitudinous Verb" ("Atlantis"), would have to endure. These contrasting epistemologies are evident in Shelley's and Crane's roles as "mythopoeists". Crane's major mythology, generated around his symbol, the Brooklyn Bridge, refers back continually to a world grounded in sense-experience. The inter-relationship of folk tale 97 (e.g., Rip van Winkle), historical fact (e.g., the voyage of Columbus), and aggregations of both legend and history (e.g., the tale of Pocahontus), resides in the larger story of fallen humanity searching for redemption through dreams and dis coveries. Shelley's major mythology, which i s presented in Prometheus Unbound (pp. 204-274), projects the existence of a level of reality which i s static and perfect. Although this world is hypostatized and Prometheus remains a human figure in the dramatic unfolding of events, the poem i s a highly idealized statement of a supernal world. Prometheus i s , at least before his f a l l , "immortal and immutable:" The essential subject of Prometheus Unbound i s the One Mind; the extramental actuating power i s the source of i t s events; and the drama i s the history of the One Mind's evolution into perfection.19 On the other hand, Crane's referential point, the Brooklyn Bridge, i s man-made and thus succeeds in demonstrating that i f a god-like power inheres in man, i t must not be confused with the absolute source from which i t i s derived. Thus, Crane's Bridge i s not i t s own Creator but w i l l merely "lend a myth to God." The difference i n approach here may very well stem from Crane's basically Christian vision and Shelley's basically Gnostic one. Since Crane's "mystical" dimension i s dependent on a Christian God for i t s authenticity, he sees man as less than perfect, dependent both on the future eternal world and on the present material one to provide him with his identity. Shelley's mysticism, on the other hand, can celebrate both a hero who knows a secret "Which may transfer the sceptre of wide Heaven" (line 373) and the unity of an immaterial world that i s free of the hierarchy of divine and human rights. Nevertheless, Crane's poem 98 s t i l l envisions the Bridge as a harp with a glory that dwells i n inde-pendence as i t s own "intr i n s i c Myth", and Shelley's " l y r i c a l drama", with i t s "beautiful idealism of moral excellence" ("Preface" to Prometheus Unbound), is "mimetic art" with a. moral purpose, in spite of his "abhorrence" of "Didactic poetry"; To suffer woes which Hope thinks i n f i n i t e ; To forgive wrongs darker than death or night; to defy Power, which seems omnipotent; To love, and bear; to hope t i l l Hope creates From i t s own wreck the thing i t contemplates; Neither to change, nor falter, nor repent; This, like they glory, Titan, i s to be Good, great and joyous, beautiful and free; This is alone Lif e , Joy, Empire, and Victory. (Act IV, lines 570-578) Thus, the Romantic poet continues to vacillate between his two incongruous worlds. Both Crane and Shelley were interested in the syncretic power of mythology, in i t s a b i l i t y to create an archetypical, universal form. Although both poets were "mythopoeists", neither achieved this dis-tinction by the sheer invention of his myths, but by the a b i l i t y to interrelate those that already existed. Crane was, however, much more fai t h f u l to the existing myth (in his case, that of the American Dream) because of his sense of tradition, and of his main goal i n this area—to achieve a sense of continuity that carries over even into the modern sci e n t i f i c world with i t s emphasis on behaviorism and materialism. On the other hand, Shelley was interested in approaching myth "by recon-20 structing the imperfect ones that already exist" into an almost "amythical" archetypical arrangement. His reader.is, in fact, discouraged from tracing the myth to some origin instead of accepting i t as a single example of pure archetype. Although Crane also avoided using myth as any particular i l l u s t r a t i o n , he was not as sure as Shelley was of the 99 potential pre-existence of the relationships inherent in the myths themselves. For Crane, this continuity had to be created by a reasser-tion of the traditions already in existence. He also attempted to give voice to these traditions once more in a myth that would be true both to them and to the spatio-temporal world, the "empirical" reality of a twentieth-century industrial America. A myth that was incapable of supporting the faith of the man who lived in this world could not, i t s e l f , be considered alive. To achieve their mythopoeic visions, both Crane and Shelley use synaesthesia as a means of poetically evoking the continuity between the "empirical" and "mystical" worlds. Like Crane's "logic of metaphor", synaesthesia allows poets to create a feeling of a harmonic inter-relationship between the different senses and between different orders of experience. Crane used this technique mainly to represent the dramatic moments of merging, as in "Voyages II", where the sea represents the violent beauty of love's power, the way to metamorphosis. Here the sea acts as the creator-destroyer who imposes her own laws on man: Take this sea, whose diapason knells On scrolls of silver snowy sentences. The effect of the use of synaesthesia here i s to achieve a concentrated statement of the power of the sea through auditory ("diapason knells") and visual ("scrolls of silver") interfusions. In "Voyages III", the acts of coition bring about the "sea-change", the trans-figurement of the private experience into heights of poetic ecstasy, "the silken skilled transmemberment of song". Here Crane uses synaesthesia to effect an actual transmemberment—the complete and sudden "mystical" 100 shift from the t a c t i l e to the auditory that suggests an experience both physical and metaphysical. At other times, Crane uses this synaesthesic technique largely to suggest the confusion between the states of consciousness or unconscious-ness. In "The Harbour Dawn", sirens "weave us into day", while "Gongs in white surplices", "beshrouded wails", are heard as "soft sleeves of sound", since the state presented here i s the twilight one between sleep and awakening. In "Lachrimae Chris t i " the moment of ecstatic suffering, of death and resurrection, i s captured i n the synaesthetic image of the g r a i l being raised in "lilac-emerald breath','. "The Wine Menagerie" suggests a state of intoxication, with the loss of the distinguishing powers of reason. Drunkenness combined with the anguish of conscience at the sense of death in the hands of depraved reality causes this subject to see himself in a dramatically inspired vision. Before the vision reaches articulation in the "logic of metaphor", he feels that "Percussive sweat i s spreading to his hair." In the hypnogogic state of alcoholic vision, the sweat of fear and primitive desire seems to beat out a steady sound as i t flows i n rhythm with his strongly throbbing pulse. Crane has managed to suggest both the state and what happens to the one experiencing i t when he sees the destructive woman, via the compact synaesthetic image of "percussive sweat." At times, Shelley uses the synaesthetic technique to suggest the achievement of a state where a l l the senses are in harmony and reflect a divine unity: I pant for the music which i s divine, My heart in i t s thirst i s a dying flower; Pour forth the sound like enchanted wine, Loosen the notes in a silver shower; ("Music", p. 657) 101 The extent of the appearance of synaesthesia i n Crane i s limited when compared with i t s appearance in Shelley. Whereas Shelley continues to employ i t throughout his poetry for i t s "general symbolic yalue" of 21 effecting "his equation of sensory perception with moral discernment", Crane continued to in s i s t upon the dual nature of these orders and the individual nature of each sensory organ's experience. Since for him the synaesthetic state could only be climactic, a state which revealed the culmination of a struggle for unity, i t s appearance was infrequent and subject to considerable control. Crane was to find a more meaningful technique in the "logic of metaphor" and in his development of the symbolic outlook with i t s analogical sensibility. There i s , thus, less use of synaesthesia in Crane's great poetry or in his later verse except for the instances where the confusion i t orders is a desired dramatic effect. In i t s e l f , the confusion of senses was not a technique towards which Crane could be wholly sympathetic, since i t failed to preserve the differentiated natures of the "empirical" and "mystical", even when they were brought together in a unified vision. 22 II. Keats: "Twixt Ape and Plato" R.B. Lewis finds that Keats' and Crane's biographies run curiously parallel to one another. There are several fundamental similarities: their short lives, their greater mastery in their short poems than in their long ones, their drive to f u l f i l the promise of their early major works, dedicated to exploring "the poetic soul in man seeing communion 23 with the s p i r i t of essential Beauty in the world". The most s i g n i f i -cant comparison, however, is based on their mutual attempt to create a poetry that would realize f u l l y "the naive, untutored idealism that 24 existed side by side with [their] strong empirical sense". Because of 102 this shared motivation, Keats* works were frequently an inspiration to Crane, even to the point of providing a direct text for his own work. Keats was included i n Crane's 1921 l i s t of those poets whose work had the greatest a f f i n i t y with his own creative ambitions. Like Shelley, however, Keats had already interested him enough to have affected the direction of at least,one poem in his early verse. "Modern Craft", lik e Keats' "Modern Love", examines the superficial and selfishly calculated 25 imitation of "divine" love found in contemporary society. In both cases, the comparison of the new faddish interpretation of love as a mere social pose to the background of great traditional love exposes the former's hollowness and vulgarity. In Keats' poem, the pretending lovers are really only " s i l l y youth" that are playing with the trappings of the real thing. Their imitation of true love in a game of mock-epic intrigue and pretension cheapens and devalues i t s real significance: T i l l Miss's comb i s made a pearl tiara, And common Wellingtons turn Romeo boots; Then Cleopatra lives at number seven, And Antony resides in Brunswick square. (p. 394) These people are "fools" because they feel that they can be exalted creatures of divine passion merely by aping i t s "agonies." For Keats, the proven existence of such love is "no reason why" the experience should be vulgarized into something "more common than the growth of weeds." In Crane's poem, the speaker i s not as freely removed as Keats' subject is from the adolescent love that finds a woman worthy of worship because she i s a fashionable paragon of female desirability. His expression of worship for this "flapper"-femme fatale i s also based on appearance: 103 She hazards jet; wears t i g e r - l i l i e s ; — And bolts herself within a jewelled belt. Too many palms have grazed her shoulders: Surely she must have f e l t . This woman, with her devastatingly "decadent" appearance, posing as "innocence dissolute", is only a papier-mache imitation of real woman. Like Keats, Crane compares her to a traditional sublime woman in order to show how love has been secularized and blasphemed. She is not a divine figure but a witch that would be chastized and destroyed i n a world of real love: Ophelia had such eyes; but she Even, sank in love and choked with flowers. This burns and i s not burnt....My modern love were Charred at a stake in younger times than ours. Because Crane's woman has created a harlot of love, lik e Keats' "doll dress'd up/For idleness", her lover i s "yawning and doting" while condemning her heartlessness. Keats would only believe that the "modern love" is real i f the imitators could "make me whole again that weighty 26 pearl/The Queen of Egypt melted1.'. Keats' work continued to have strong appeal for Crane, since, of the High Romantic poets, he i s the one whose sensibility i s most com-pletely attuned to the reality of the outer world. This sensibility involved him in continual exploration of his own powers, mainly sub-jective and sensual to begin with, but later, more disinterestedly objective and moral in direction. Whatever philosophizing Keats did in his lifetime was based on his own experience, rather than on the i n -fluences of philosophical and ethical writers that he might have read. While Shelley had the educated background for exploring these subjects, Keats, as a student of medical science, witnessed the immediate reality 104 of much of human misery, particularly in his job as "dresser" of wounds, as well as in his experience of the .illness and poverty of much of the l i f e in London. Thus, while he became devoted to creating in art a force that "actualizes the ideal," he could not oyerlook the external world but f e l t the need to render "perceptible the presence of the ideal 27 in the actual." Because of the poet's drive to assert a balanced vision, Keats' "Endymion" (pp. 53-157) develops a statement on the theme of the dangers of idealized solipsism found in Shelley's "Alastor." Like Shelley's 28 Poet-hero, who suffers the cost of pursuing extreme solitude,.' Endymion strives for something beyond the human grasp. His yearning after Cynthia in his world of "dream within dream" leads him to distraction and despera-tion. Having committed the sin of "hubris", he experiences the same confusion as Icarus: . . . He who died For soaring too audacious in the sun, When that same treacherous wax began to run, Felt no more tongue-tied than Endymion. (Book IV, lines 441-444) Endymion becomes an exile, complete in self-pity, alienated from loving either the "empirical" universe, symbolized by the Indian maiden, or the "mystical" one, symbolized by Cynthia. Endymion has "no daedale heart" (Book IV, line 459)., In fact, he has had inklings of the source of happiness, and the way to achieving i t . Undeluded in his vision of the way to this happiness, he neverthe-less attempts a short-cut, by quickly by-passing the lowliness of his destiny. He thus experiences "the deadly feel of solitude" (Book II, line 284), the Alastor-like state of exile and precarious bliss achieved 105 i n the quiet luxury of dream. Keats shows that t h i s state i s extremely f r a g i l e since i t completely denies a whole aspect of human experience. Like Crane's moth with h i s "honey-wax eyes" and Shelley's hero who "overleaps the bounds," h i s Icar l a n f i g u r e i s threatened by the same dis a s t e r i f he does not learn to r e s i s t bending "His appetite beyond h i s natural sphere" (Book IV, l i n e 647). In Book I I I , the story of Glaucus, Endymion's "twin brother" i n s u f f e r i n g and destiny, provides a lesson f o r the young e x i l e , since the former has read i n the heavens that man can be saved from the constant "ebb and flow" of experience: . . . - - I f he u t t e r l y Scans a l l the depths of magic, and expounds The meanings of a l l motions, shapes and sounds; If he explores a l l forms and substances Straight homeward to t h e i r symbol-essences; He s h a l l not d i e . (Book I I I , l i n e s 696-701) This i s the lesson that Keats' hero must l e a r n . Endymion's sudden about-face at the end of the poem does not, then, lack thematic con-sistency although i t may seem weak i n dramatic v e r i s i m i l i t u d e . Endymion, once a sybarite, now discovers the way to h i s i d e a l through C h r i s t i a n -l i k e v i r t u e s of humility and renunciation: What i s there to p l a i n of? By Titan's foe I am but r i g h t l y sery'd. . . (Book IV, l i n e s 943-944) At t h i s point, of course, the Indian princess reyeals that she i s r e a l l y Cynthia. Thus Keats completes h i s statement that man's way to the i d e a l must be i n and through the r e a l , and that t h i s r e a l i t y i s not to be rejected except by the man who would be, at the same time, an e x i l e from the i d e a l he pursues. Crane's "For the Marriage of Faustus and Helen" follows Keats' poem not only i n theme but i n i t s basic structure and dramatic development. 106 Whether his poem i s a direct outgrowth of "Endymlon" or not, certainly Crane was aware of Keats' means of handling the quest of the sensuous world for i t s counterpart, the "mystical" one, through the symbol of man's quest for a woman he passionately loves. Faustus' Helen is also a goddess^figure like Cynthia, who can change l i f e into a dream: Reflective conversion of a l l things At your deep blush, when ecstasies thread The limbs and belly, when rainbows spread Impinging on the throat and sides. . . For Crane, as for Keats, the ideal i s achieved through endurance and humility, rather than through any proud and wi l f u l attempt to search i t out. Thus, Cynthia is revealed to Endymion only after he turns to his earthly "Indian b l i s s . " Suddenly "this mortal state" (Book IV, line 991) which is "dul l , uninspired, snail-paced" (Book IV, line 25), i s transformed into immortality: "by some unlook'd for change/. . .spiritualiz'd" (Book IV, lines 992-993). Likewise, Helen's pure s p i r i t u a l beauty i s manifested to Faustus because he too has realized the f u l l expression of his human desires instead of attempting to deny them: We did not ask for that, but have survived, And w i l l persist to speak again before A l l stubble streets that have not curved To memory, or known the ominous l i f t e d arm That lowers down the arc of Helen's brow To saturate with blessing and dismay. Keats explores the theme in this way not only in "Endymion" but i n "La Belle Dame Sans Merci" and in "The Eve of Saint Agnes." The last of these poems was of such significance to Crane that he chose to write his own ironic version of modern man's poetic quest for the absolute in the industrialized city by re-exploring Keats' theme of Porphyro's wooing of Madeline. "Porphyro in Akron" undercuts the Romantic theme with elements 107 from the poets of "negation," E l i o t and Laforgue, to reveal the bitter nature of the.poet's l i f e in the modern world. Porphyro i s idle i n a ridiculous world of mechanical waste and demoralization. Since the name, Akron, means "high place," i t serves only to render the poem's irony even more devasting. In a world where the "weight of many cars" can only function by "Absorbing and conveying weariness," the poetic vehicle can do nothing but submit to the same fate. Although the mature Crane definitely became the poet of the city, at the time when he was writing this poem, he f e l t , like the young Keats, the need to escape "the city's din" in order to compose his works. These works had to be concealed, since they were not what the urban l i f e demanded of the poet: 0 City, your axles need not the o i l of song. 1 w i l l whisper words to myself And put them in my pockets. The only way the modern Porphyro can flee to the realm of his prede-cessor i s by shutting out the contemporary "empirical!! outlook and the external world i t realizes: Pull down the hotel counterpane And hitch yourself up to your book. Crane's attitude to Keats' world and to Romanticism i n general i s reflected i n this poem. He sees.it as a way of escape, of subterfuge, of exile: " i n this town poetry's a/Bedroom occupation". The poet must keep his poetry private because i t would be destroyed by the outside world. This world has also restricted the frame of reference that poetry has. It belongs to the passive, sentimental and possibly erotic aspect of man's l i f e symbolized by the bedroom. "Porphyro in Akron" more than suggests Crane's understanding of what Keats was evoking in "The Eve of Saint Agnes." Alone i n the 108 external universe, Crane's hero does not have a Madeline of his own to whom he can turn. His ideal i s a borrowed one, found only through escape and retrogression. Caught between illusory fantasy and bitter reality, the modern Porphyro can only escape through irony and sel f -denigration: But look up, Porphyro,—your toes Are ridiculously tapping The spindles at the foot of the bed. The stars are drowned in a slow rain, And a hash of noises i s slung up from the street. You ought, really, to try to sleep.'.: The Laforguian attitude juxtaposes staccato tedium, inviting Porphyro to Laxity, with the penetrating awareness and true noble pathos found in the face of cosmic disorder. Crane could not keep this attitude free of his own sentiment, however. Thus his poem recalls his childhood days: 'Connais tu le pays. . .?' Your mother sang that in a stuffy parlour One summer day i n a l i t t l e town Where you had started to grow. Those memories of his mother reflect an i d y l l i c prelapsarian world which contrasts with his l i f e in Akron that was forced on him to earn his father's respect. This contrast i s a self-evident one, since i t was his father who once told him that poetry was to be, lik e golf, something for the gentleman's spare time. Crane's re-appraisal of man's quest for the ideal in the symbolic terms of his quest for a passionate relationship grows out of an attitude which he shared,with Keats, namely that love is the supreme principle. Love i s the "unseen film, an orbed drop/Of light" that i s "at the t i p -top" of Keats' pleasure thermometer. Thus, in two of his greatest poems that are devoted to this quest, "Voyages" and "For the Marriage of Faustus and Helen", Crane explores the theme through the lover's pursuit 109 of his beloved. Throughout these works, Crane frequently employs terms of courtship, of desire and^ especially in the former poem, of erotic frankness. For both poets, the love relationship i s not only a metaphor for the pursuit of an ideal, however, but i s an actual part of that very quest. Both because of his rejection of "consequitive [sic] reasoning" in favour of the imagination's intuitive.spanning power and because of his strong "empirical" nature, Keats could write: "0 for a Life of Sensa-29 tions rather than of Thoughts." Since he believed the world to be a "School intuited for the purpose of teaching l i t t l e children how to 30 read" , each man was obliged to pay attention to the lesson i f he were to make the grade. Thus, the world of books could be inspirational, but, by i t s e l f , i t i s found to be "wanting" since "Nothing ever becomes real u n t i l i t i s experienced". Throughout Keats' poems, however, the stress on autobiography or the authenticity of his particular experience i s not as great as the one placed on the authenticity of the poet that these experiences created. Thus, Bate writes: What distinguished Keats from his contemporaries, and from almost a l l the other major English poets except Shakespeare, is the highly empirical nature of his philosophy.31 At the same time, he did not find i t contradictory to assert that the "quality" which "went to form a Man of Achievement" was "Negative Capability", . . . that i s when a man i s capable of being i n uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts, without any i r r i t a b l e reaching after fact and reason—Coleridge, for instance, would let go by a fine isolated verisimilitude caught from the Penetralium of mystery, from being incapable of remaining content with half knowledge.32 For Keats, the poet could write his best poetry through openness of mind that involved the negation of a Sophoclean outlook. Man did not have to 110 know himself to write poetry•since the "only means of strengthening one 1s intellect i s to make up one 1s mind about nothing—to let the mind be a thoroughfare for a l l thoughts". The lack.of a systematized know-ledge, whereby man "has made up his Mind about everything", allows the art i s t a freedom from the narrow l i f e of an equally controlled and systematized ego. With this freedom, he can go in pursuit of a s p i r i -tual "Capability" which i s unrestricted by formalized presuppositions that narrow the range of his exploratory powers. Keats does not deny a "personal identity" to man, but he does reject an outlook that insists upon the structuring of this identity on the basis of a system of know-ledge. Essentially, Keats' outlook involves the act of "negating one's 33 own ego" not to deny the mind but to renew i t i n a new openness. Crane's "logic of metaphor" or his "dynamics of inferential mention" (Letters, p. 240) were based on a similar attempt to realize "what can be done i f potentialities are f u l l y freed, released" (Letters, p. 139). Like Keats, Crane wanted to reach after "Mysteries, doubts" that existed beyond "fact and reason". He, too, was searching for a way to project the self into an uncramped and unbounded "new order of consciousness" whereby "the art i s t identifies himself with l i f e " (Letters^, p. 139). Crane's "projecting" i s like "Negative Capability" for two reasons, which he explains: The great energies about us cannot be transformed that way [i.e., through a "system of judgement"] into a higher quality of l i f e , and by perfecting our se n s i b i l i t i e s , response and actions, we are always contributing more than we can realize (rationalize) at the time. We answer them [i.e., "those who deny the superior logic of metaphor"] a l i t t l e vaguely, f i r s t , because our ends are I l l forever unaccomplished, a,nd because, secondly, our work i s self-explanatory enough, i f . they could 'see' i t . (Letters, p. 13'8) Like Keats, Crane wanted h i s poetry to move away from " i n d i f f e r e n c e " and "boundaries" towards a "Whole", whether i t "can be grasped from such fragments or not". At the same time, he was also attempting to create a poetry which did not r e l y on outside systems but was self-explanatory. In t h i s way, the poet "gathertedl together those dangerous i n t e r e s t s outside of [him]self into that purer p r o j e c t i o n of "[him]self" (Letters, p. 139). These mutual i n t e r e s t s i n Keats and Crane bring the pursuit of "Negative C a p a b i l i t y " and " l o g i c of metaphor" close together as "mystic-a e s t h e t i c " objectives which transcend superimposed orders or frames of reference through the search f o r what the former c a l l s "a thoroughfare for a l l thoughts" and the l a t t e r a "synthesis of l i f e " (Letters, p. 139). Keats did not s u f f e r as anguished a struggle i n h i s acceptance of the "em p i r i c a l " world as Crane d i d , however. Aware of h i s p o s i t i o n as American poet, following the t r a d i t i o n of democratized Romanticism created by Emerson and e s p e c i a l l y by Whitman, Crane f e l t obliged to celebrate the urbanized and mechanized twentieth century world he l i v e d i n by becoming i t s Pindar (Letters, p. 129). Since t h i s world seemed so i n i m i c a l to h i s a r t , Crane wanted to assert the s p i r i t u a l values which were concealed within i t i n order to make i t a s u i t a b l e subject for h i s poetic v i s i o n . For Crane, these values were not s u b s t a n t i a l and con-stant. Thus, he frequently saw h i s e f f o r t s to transform them into poetry as acts of i l l u s o r y or i n s i p i d Quixotism. For t h i s reason, h i s poetry 112 frequently f a i l s to exemplify one of Keats' "axioms": "That i f poetry comes not as naturally as the Leaves to a tree i t had better not come at 35 a l l . " J D Crane wanted his poetry to be spontaneous and inspirational. The task seemed easy when writing from the l y r i c a l self, but not when pro-jecting the image of the public poet celebrating a large national myth. When writing The Bridge, Crane stated that he was especially i n need of a "keyed-up mood" i n order "to have the necessary inspiration to keep steadily at i t " (Letters, p. 231). The letters written during 1926 show the problems he had in preserving his faith in his material and his attempt to understand the cause for these crises. Although he could not trust Winters' recommended "methodical and predetermined . . . method of development" (Letters, p. 301), his poetry was nonetheless the "recording of sensations" that were "very rigidly chosen" (Letters, pp. 301-302). Thus, many of Crane's problems in his work arose from his attempt to balance spontaneity with the "problem of form" and the question of faith. At times, most significantly in the post-Bridge writing, Crane attempted to escape the urban world where "elevators drop us from our day" and to turn to primitive non-industrialized cultures with their more fundamental senses of mythology and of the power of mysticism in order to contact the sp i r i t u a l universe directly. Keats also made his escape into the dream world, into the past, in poems based on myth or legend. He remained, in fact, the poet of "Sleep and Poetry", wherein poetry's end i s "To sooth the cares, and l i f t the thoughts of man" (p.48, line 247). In a minor poem, "Fancy", Keats diagnoses the Romantic aim in a 113 nutshell: Ever let the fancy roam, Pleasure never i s at home. (p. 212) For him, poetry had an autotelic existence as "might half slumbering on i t s own right arm" C"Sleep and Poetry", p. 48, line 237). Crane was aware of this deification, since in his own poem "Ave Maria", he wrote of God, the powerful "incognizable Word", as "Thou who sleepest on Thyself". In his great odes, particularly "Ode to a Nightingale" (p.207) and "Ode on a Grecian Urn" (p.209), Keats attempts to find some balance between the "empirical" and "mystical" worlds. The balance i s not achieved, however, in any systematically philosophic sense. Thus, abstracting the words, '"Beauty i s truth, truth beauty'" from the drama of the latter poem, where they are the imagined communication of the urn, and trans-mogrifying these words into Keatsian platitudes or philosophic observa-tion, i s as absurd as answering the question "Do I wake or sleep"? Keats' poems work out a dramatic tension between the sensuous world and the world of the imagination. The urn attempts to "tease us out of thought" and yet there i s something poignant, as well as b l i s s f u l , about the unfulfilment which the urn displays in i t s pattern. There i s an essential drama witnessed in the "Bold Lover" who cannot kiss. The tone throughout i s an attempt to establish a conviction, at times by the poverty of questions and exclamations. This poverty, however, i s not Keats', but belongs to a l l men who must feel some essential loss, some sense of repulsion in the face of the "Cold Pastoral". The urn not only calls to mind the stasis of immortal art, l i f e frozen in eternity, but 114 also the sense of unreal and a r t i f i c i a l unfulfilment, C'Unrayish'd bride") and of death to the earthly, sensuous nature which we are forced, by our very natures, into valuing highly. Thus the most complete communication for man with the "mystical" world must s t i l l be f i l t e r e d through his earthly l i f e . What the urn communicates about truth and beauty is a l l that man can "know on earth", because of his earthliness. The expression of immortality can only be communicated through an analogue: Art i s not eternity, but only the analogue of i t . Not u n t i l he reaches a better world w i l l man be able to know more and to elucidate the strange interconnections of the ideal and the actual. But in this world, art is man's highest endeavour because i t makes perceptible the presence of the ideal in the actual.36 Keats' two odes, one with the "Cold Pastoral" and i t s words on beauty and truth, the other with the "wake/sleeping" confusion, provide another quintessential statement of the Romantics' struggle for survival in a dual universe. In fact, like the "counterfeit i n f i n i t y " in Coleridge, or 37 the "centripetal and centrifugal gang" in Whitman, these paradoxical dualities find their modern counterpart in a mystic-aesthetic balance which Crane reasserts in his poetry of the "multitudinous Verb". 115 References Chapter 4 1 Gerard, p. 136. 2 Crane, "General Aims and Theories", p. 218. 3 The Complete Works of Percy Bysshe Shelley, ed. Thomas Hutchinson (London: Oxford University Press, 1960), p. 668. Subsequent quota-tions from Shelley's work w i l l be documented internally and w i l l refer to this edition. 4 Gerard, p. 145. 5 Butterfield, p. 223. 6 Earl R. Wasserman, Shelley's "Prometheus Unbound": A C r i t i c a l Reading (Baltimore: The John Hopkins Press, 1965), p. 11. 7 Ibid. 8 Ibid ? pp. 11-12. 9 Ibid. ? p. 15. 10 Whereas Shelley's idealism found the distinction between subject and object, internal and external, a mere nominal point of view, for Crane i t was much more real, a situation which had to be faced head on, since he could not deny a reality to the world of sense experience. Crane's outlook was never as philosophic as Shelley's. Nor was i t ever developed outside of i t s poetic context except for scattered comments throughout the letters. It is obvious, however, that Crane holds on to the realist's position concerning the distinction between the inner and outer worlds, and that his attempts at repudiating such a distinction, when presented from the idealist point-of-view, f a i l to work very convincingly. His generation of a transcendent vision i n his poetry does not deny the "empirical" but arises out of i t . He could scarcely convince himself, as Shelley had, that "nothing i s , but a l l things seem". 116 11 Yvor Winters, In Defense of Reason, 3rd e d i t i o n (Denver: Alan Swallow, n.p.d.), p. 45. 12 Ibid. 13 see "Gnosticism" i n The New Bi b l e Dictionary, ed. J.D. Douglas (Grand Rapids, Michigan: W.B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1962), pp. 473-474. 14 Ibid., p. 473 15 Ibid. 16 Coleridge, The Poems of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, ed. Ernest Hartley Coleridge (London: Oxford University Press, 1912), p. 523. 17 Emily Dickinson, Poems, ed. Martha Dickinson Bianchi and A l f r e d Leete Hampson (Boston: L i t t l e , Brown and Co., c 1957), p. 230. 18 Wallace Stevens, "Notes Towards a Supreme F i c t i o n " , The Col l e c t e d Poems of Wallace Stevens (New York: A l f r e d A. Knopf, 1967), p. 380. 19 Wasserman, p. 31. 20 Wasserman, Shelley: A C r i t i c a l Reading (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1971), p. 275. 21 Glenn O'Malley, Shelley and Synesthesia (Northwestern U n i v e r s i t y Press, 1964), p. 176. 22 John Keats, "The Poet: A Fragment" i n Keats: P o e t i c a l Works, ed. H.W. Garrod (London: Oxford Uni v e r s i t y Press, 1966), p. 394. Subse-quent quotations from Keats' works w i l l be documented i n t e r n a l l y and w i l l r e f e r to t h i s e d i t i o n . 23 Lewis, p. 80. 117 24 Walter Jackson Bate, John Keats (Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Belknap Press of Harvard Un i v e r s i t y Press, 1964), p. 174. 25 see Weber, p. 39. 26 The reference to the pe a r l i n Keats suggests the "ori e n t p e a r l " which Antony sent Cleopatra i n Shakespeare's play (Act I, Scene i v ) . This p e a r l suggests the s o l i d and eternal nature of h i s love f o r her before she weakens ( i . e . , melts) i t by making too many claims on h i s manhood and h i s p o t e n t i a l strength. Crane's a l l u s i o n to the pe a r l suggests the same weakening of the divine power of love. Like Cleo-patra, h i s flapper dissolves a pearl i n alcohol ("drowning cool pearls i n a l c o h o l " ) . 2 7 , Gerard, p. 235. 28 Keats c a l l h i s hero "the s o l i t a r y " (Book I I , l i n e 633). 29 Keats, Letters of John Keats, ed. Robert G i t t i n g s (London: Oxford Un i v e r s i t y Press, 1970), p. 37. 30 Ibid., p. 250. 31 Walter Jackson Bate, Negative C a p a b i l i t y : The I n t u i t i v e Approach i n Keats (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard U n i v e r s i t y Press, 1939), p. 41. 32 Keats, L e t t e r s , p. 43. 33 Bate, John Keats (New York: Oxford U n i v e r s i t y Press, 1966), p. 249. 34 Ibid . 35 Keats, L e t t e r s , p. 70. 36 Gerard, p. 235. 118 37 "Song of Myself, 43" in Walt Whitman: Representative Selections, revised edition, ed. Floyd Stovall (New York: H i l l and Wang, 1961), p. 119 CHAPTER V HART CRANE AND HIGH ROMANTICISM: BLAKE For years, remember, perfectly honest people have seen nothing but insanity in such things as Blake's "The Tiger"—the only pity i s what can be done about i t . (Letters, p. 294) I. Blake and Crane: A Meeting of "Mystical" Sensibilities Evidence i n the letters and in biographic material demonstrates that Crane read Blake's poetry and was fascinated by i t s visionary strength. Horton states that Mrs. Crane gave her son a copy of "the works of William Blake in the summer of 1917","'" when he was eighteen years of age and on the threshold of his poetic career. Crane's interest in Blake never waned. In 1931, a year before his suicide, a friend, Lorna Dietz, sent him a copy of the poet's works which he 2 started avidly reading again. Crane believed that he and Blake shared an essential a f f i n i t y i n their visionary outlooks. While i n France, i n one of his drunken stupors, he shouted out this ecstatic identity of souls for everyone to hear, when he equated himself with Blake as well as with his other visionary favourites, Baudelaire, 3 Whitman, and Marlowe. Indeed, Sy Kahn i s not exaggerating too much when he says that "Blake was as important as Whitman to Crane in shaping his own language and vision". Undoubtedly, Crane's identification of himself with Blake does contain a strong element of personal drama. He enjoyed entertaining a belief that he was a reincarnation of the revolutionary visionary poets that he so much admired. His hero-worship of these poets exten-ded to a dramatization of himself as one of their crew. Nevertheless, 120 there is more involved i n Crane's a f f i n i t y with Blake than merely a self-gratulatory projection of himself as heir to his visionary favourites. Crane experienced a need for serious sp i r i t u a l a f f i n i t y with Blake's myth. Carrying on a tradition remained for him an essential part of the value of poetic enterprise, in spite of the fact that this tradition had disappeared into the background during his lifetime. Modern poetry, like the modern world i t reflected, had either denied the reality of s p i r i t u a l values or had bemoaned their loss. For Crane, however, these values were s t i l l present, although they had to be rediscovered by being framed in new terms capable of expressing their significance to the twentieth-century world as well as to their continuity with the past: I feel that Eliot ignores certain s p i r i t u a l events and pos s i b i l i t i e s as real and powerful now as, say, in the time of Blake. (Letters, p. 115) In his attempt to achieve a fuller grasp of Blake's visionary poetry, Crane read S. Foster Damon's book, William Blake: His Philo- sophy and Symbols, in 1922.^ His enthusiasm for both the book and i t s subject i s suggested i n a letter written to Munson at this time: I was especially t h r i l l e d at the Damon book on Blake. You know how much Blake has always interested me. (Letters, p. 100) This enthusiasm surfaced strongly at the particular period in Crane's l i f e when he was working on the concluding section of "For the Marriage of Faustus and Helen" and was beginning his visionary "sea poem" (Letters, p. 99), "Voyages". His interest in achieving a new s p i r i t u a l 121 scope led him to Waldo Frank's Rahab, wherein the heroine defines "the background of l i f e as e s s e n t i a l l y Tragedy". (Letters, p. 99) Frank's mysticism has "a s l i g h t touch of sentimentality" (Letters, p. 98), however, a touch that Crane found rather unsympathetic and d i s t a s t e f u l . Blake, on the other hand, had a strength of v i s i o n and a sense of p o s i t i v e courage that he admired. Crane could only be i n complete sympathy with a poet who sa i d that "Man's perceptions are not bounded by organs of perception",^ and who thus valued a l l of l i f e , because h i s outlook of t o t a l acceptance was based on the b e l i e f that "everything that l i v e s i s Holy" (Blake, p. 160). In Blake, Crane found a poet who believed that man could escape "the same d u l l round" (Blake, p. 97) of a material l i f e by b e l i e v i n g i n h i s desires, h i s i n f i n i t y , and i n the "true Man", the t i t l e f o r the Imagination or Poetic genius. For Blake, God was found i n Man, not outside of him. Consequently, man's main d i r e c t i o n should not be merely f o r "More! More!" i n h i s l i f e , but f o r a complete f u l f i l -ment of h i s i n f i n i t e p o s s i b i l i t i e s . For Blake, " l e s s than A l l cannot s a t i s f y Man" (Blake, p. 97). This b e l i e f i n man and i n h i s true immortal s e l f was the basis of h i s a r t . Since Crane was looking f o r such assurance and a means of a r t i c u l a t i n g i t , the discovery of Blake's poetry and poetic was a very great step i n the r e a l i z a t i o n of h i s own creat i v e d i r e c t i o n . Damon presented Blake as a mystic who recognized the "cosmic tragedy" of the f a l l from unity and who pursued the recapturing of th i s sense of wholeness by understanding the nature of the f a l l , and 122 of "experience", known as the state of "Disillusionment" 7 i n a world of materialism. Crane could be completely sympathetic with this kind of a mystical stand, since, unlike Frank's, i t did not pass away into vague emotionalism and dreaminess but was dynamic and f u l l y aware of the fallen state of man: The test by which the Mystic is positively recognized is the 'ecstacy'. During such moments, he enters a peculiar state of mental illumination, i n which he i s exalted above the world as we know i t , into a supersensuous state, where he i s violently united with Ultimate Truth. 8 For Crane, the i n i t i a l realization of his visionary powers rendered the poetic state an ecstatic experience. He f e l t that he had achieved a supersensual height, arrived at through the senses but existing beyond them. In Blake's "A Vision of the Last Judgement", he found a statement concerning the Imagination which equated i t with Vision. This equation stimulated the new direction i n his poetry, since Crane was looking for a poetry which moved "toward a state of consciousness, an 'innocence' (Blake) or absolute beauty": Vision or Imagination i s a Representation of what Eternally Exists, Really and Unchangeably. (Blake, p. 604) Looking for a way to articulate his s p i r i t u a l and occult intuitions and yearnings i n a genuinely "mystical" verse, Crane found Blake's positive comments an encouragement and a guide toward the way of achieving this goal. Blake denied the reality of the Material world, calling i t "Error" and "Fallacy": 123 Mental things alone are Real; what is call'd Corporeal, Nobody Knows of i t s Dwelling Place: i t is in Fallacy, & i t s Existence an Imposture. Where is Existence out of Mind or Thought? (Blake, p.617) And yet he did not eliminate this material world from his vision in spite of i t s origins in the F a l l . This F a l l and the state of Generation were, after a l l , a reality. To deny their i l l u s i o n would thus create an even greater one. This i l l u s i o n , said Blake, w i l l only become clear on the Last Judgement: Many Persons, such as Paine & Voltaire, with some of the Ancient Greeks, say: 'we w i l l not converse concerning Good & E v i l ; we w i l l live in Paradise & Liberty'. You may do so in Spirit, but not in the Mortal Body as you pretend, t i l l after the Last Judgement. (Blake, p. 616) Crane f e l t a very deep a f f i n i t y with this position, since i t was opti-mistic about consolidating Error, the Mortal Body and E v i l i n the Last Judgement. Thus, i n the moment of transcendence, Blake abandons a l l negation. Nevertheless, he continued with f u l l "empirical" awareness, to insist upon the need to recognize mortality as a universal situation: . . . while we are in the world of Mortality we Must Suffer. The Whole Creation Groans to be deliver'd. (Blake, p. 616) In this way, the dualism of man's "empirical" and "mystical" natures i s not denied, although poetry works to envision a way out of this fragmen-tation. Thus, for both poets, "Eternal Identity is one thing & Corporeal Vegetation is another thing" (Blake, p. 607). The distinction must never be lost. And yet the Corporeal World, although i t must be "cast off" (Blake, p. 613) for the ar t i s t to achieve true greatness, can serve as a temporal imitation of the eternal reality, the "Vegetable Glass of Nature" (Blake, p. 605) which reflects the "Eternal World". 124 II. The Blakean Nature of Crane's "Mystical" Poetic The evidence that Crane found the "Vision of the Last Judgement" a clear source of inspiration for the definition of his own mystical aesthetic i s found i n the statement of his "General Aims and Theories". Here Blake's distinctions between the eternal and temporal and the "looking thro'" the eye and "not with i t " help Crane outline his own "logic of metaphor": Blake meant these differences [i.e. the differences between those "absolutists" interested in "(metaphysical) causes" and the impressionists only interested in "retinal registration"] when he wrote: We are led to believe in a l i e When we see with and not through the eye. The impressionist creates only with the eye and for the readiest surface of the consciousness, at least relatively so. If the effect has been harmonious or even stimulating, he can stop there, relinquishing entirely to his audience the problematic synthesis of the details into terms of their own personal consciousness. It i s my hope to go through the combined materials of the poem, using our 'real' world somewhat as a spring-board, and to give the poem as a whole an orbit or predetermined direction of i t s own—Its evocation w i l l not be toward decoration or amusement, but rather toward a state of consciousness, an 'innocence' (Blake) or absolute beauty. In this condition there may be discoverable under new forms certain s p i r i t u a l illuminations shining with a morality essentialized from experience directly, and not from previous precepts or per-ceptions.^ 0 Crane's logic of metaphor, with i t s "thought-extension" and i t s achieve-ment of tonal nuance, of suggestivity in symbolic as well as linguistic and textual significance, gathers most of i t s shape and direction from Whitman and French Symbolism. Blake, however, provided a definite influence here, too. Crane envisioned his "logic of metaphor" in terms of Blake's pursuit of the poet's approximation to Divine Vision. A letter to Stieglitz written i n 1923 proves this point without question: 125 'What i s now proved was once only imagined', said Blake. I have to combat every day those really sincere people, but limited, who deny the superior logic of metaphor in favor of their perfect sums, divisions and subtractions. (Letters, p. 138) Crane saw his logic of metaphor, then, not only as a way of trans-cending logic but of improving on i t , of cutting across i t , as his con-centrated but i n f i n i t e l y suggestive vision of Brooklyn Bridge is the way to mystical progress and reversion. A myth, once generated, i s returned to i t s source. "Vaulting the sea", spanning time to eternity, i t w i l l "lend a myth to God". For Crane this spanning is possible by way of the joint aesthetic and technical process imaged i n "To Brooklyn Bridge": Again the t r a f f i c lights that skim thy swift Unfractioned idiom, immaculate sigh of stars, Leading thy path—condense eternity: And we have seen night l i f t e d in thine arms. This condensation of eternity i s suggested by Blake's stress on the importance of "Minute Particulars" as microcosms containing the whole universe, as instants of time containing an eternity: To see a World in a Grain of Sand And a Heaven in a Wild Flower, Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand And Eternity i n an hour. (Blake, p. 431) In contrast with the 18th century and i t s rational stress on classify-ing and generalizing, Blake emphasized his support for the unity and necessity of each "particular": To Generalize is to be an Idiot. To Particularize i s the Alone Distinction of Merit. General Knowledges are those Knowledges that Idiots possess. (Blake, p. 451) Crane's poetry was dedicated to reaffirming this point of view. 126 When writing his "General Theories and Aims" Crane may have had Damon's thoughts on Blake's symbolism in mind. Like Crane, with his contrast between the impressionist and the absolutist, Damon di s t i n -guishes between the " l i t e r a l i s t " who "copies photographically what he sees or feels" and the symbolist, in this case, Blake himself, who can interpret "objects to show their relation to, and their expression of, mankind". The symbolist is the supreme poet because he reveals the eternal truth in a way that transcends the l i t e r a l , even while working through i t : Everything he [Blake] saw revealed to him i t s inner essence, which was in turn the revelation of a truth. Only through this method could Truth be approached. This Isis cannot be seen unveiled, for the mortal eye i t s e l f i s her vesture. The great secrets cannot be told; the very syllables are their mask.-*-! The way is then very close to that suggested by Crane, especially since i t both acts as the springboard to spiritual heights and is achieved through condensation which eliminates the traditional logical "cloven f i c t i o n " between subject and object: Higher yet [i.e. than simile] is the metaphor, which, by eliminating the conjunctive words, 'like to' and 'as', practically identifies the object with i t s emotional equivalent. The symbol, however, uses this identity, yet discards the named object for the Eternity which is thus evoked.^2 Crane uses the phrase, "adagio of islands", as his example of how this technique works for him. At one and the same time he uses the words to suggest motion, mood, music, and image. Crane refrained from calling the result of this fusion of the inner and outer a "symbol". Possibly this term suggested an undesirable a f f i n i t y with the aesthetic of 127 French Symbolism. Such an af f i n i t y threatened to de-emphasize the spiritual significance of Crane's experiment by presenting i t as s t r i c t l y a technical conceit. Crane was aware of the relationship between the achievement of what he calls "the moment made eternal" and the symbolist approach offered by Blake. In a letter to Stieglitz, he quotes a few paragraphs from an essay he proposed to write on the photographer, which he never completed. These paragraphs indicate Crane's own attempt to "capture" the moment, to achieve the balance between speed and constancy, motion and f i x i t y , the temporal and the eternal. Crane struggled to find the a r t i s t i c position between passivity and activity, which he referred to when speaking of "the passivity of the camera coupled with the unboun-ded respect of this photographer for i t s mechanical p e r f e c t i b i l i t y " (Letters, p. 130). This process, whereby he would respond to the poetic traditions passively by accepting them and their verse forms and actively by reasserting them in modern frames of reference and language, would allow him to achieve the fusion of his empirical and aesthetic-mystic worlds. The camera in Stieglitz's hands achieves such a bond-ing: But they [i.e. the essences of things] are suspended on the invisible dimension whose vibrance has been denied the human eye at a l l times save in the intuition of ecstasy. (Letters, p. 132) Crane sought these moments of ecstasy in his art. As the controlling motivation and aura of his work, they led him to heights of poetic magnificence as well as to depths of shrieking hysteria or manic 128 v o l u b i l i t y . Balance, however, was an objective that he pursued a l l of h i s a r t i s t i c l i f e . This balance obsessed him i n h i s very e a r l y stages of c r e a t i v i t y , as we can see i n a l e t t e r written to h i s father i n 1917: There i s only one harmony, that i s the e q u i l i b r i u m maintained by two opposite forces, equally strong. (Letters, p. 5). In "The Marriage of Heaven and H e l l " , Blake stated that such antagonis-t i c forces shaped the whole nature of man's l i f e : Without Contraries i s no progression. A t t r a c t i o n and Repulsion, Reason and Energy, Love and Hate are necessary to Human existence. (Blake, p. 149) These contrary forces were the base of the dramatic a c t i o n i n the mythologies of h i s epic poems and provided the fundamental d i a l e c t i c a l design f o r the Songs of Innocence and the Songs of Experience. Blake's poetry was dedicated to creating a " f e a r f u l symmetry" which expressed the a c t i v e nature of a universe abounding i n c r e a t i v e energy. In t h i s 13 universe, "Man creates l i f e , and does not only receive i t from God". Thus his poetry i s d i a l e c t i c a l and c y c l i c a l , avoiding the traps of overgeneralized systematizations that would freeze l i f e i n a jejune morality: "I must Create a System, or be enslav'd by another Man's. I w i l l not Reason & Compare: my business i s to Create". (Blake, p. 629) The poet's c r e a t i v i t y as w e l l as the attainment of the Human Form Divine depend on the existence of these contraries and a d e s i r e for t h e i r eventual synthesis: They [ i . e . the gods] must renew t h e i r brightness, & t h e i r disorganiz'd function Again reorganize, t i l l they resume the image of the human, 129 Cooperating i n the bl i s s of Man, obeying his Wi l l , Servants to the i n f i n i t e & Eternal of the Human form. Crane's awareness of Blake's position on the question of balance and equilibrium and of man's quest for these ends i s evidenced i n the f i n a l quote from the notes on Stieglitz: Alfred Stieglitz can say to us today what William Blake said to as baffled a world more than a hundred years ago in his 'To the Christians': 'I give you the end of a golden string; Only wind i t into a b a l l , — It w i l l lead you i n at Heaven's gate, Built in Jerusalem's wall'. (Letters, p. 132) Significantly enough, Damon calls his chapter on Blake's symbolic technique "The End of the Golden String", quoting these same lines before stating that "Blake's method of concealing his ideas is known E 14 Symbolism". Surely Crane and Damon were sharing an insight into Blake's technique, a technique which became the one Crane pursued as the best road towards his own Jerusalem. III. The Visionary "Epic" in Crane and Blake When Crane began to project his visionary outlook in a long prophetic poem, The Bridge, he turned to Blake's major "epics" for inspiration and support. Crane did not see these d i f f i c u l t and often obscure works as Blake's private mythology, lost in some distant past. Blake's contemporaneity arose out of his dedication of his poetry to future generations, who would be the ones to understand i t and i t s purpose. It also arose out of his belief i n the co-existence of an individual moment and a l l of time. Crane was inspired by this belief: 130 I find nothing in Blake that seems outdated, and for him the present was always eternity. (Letters, p. 322). In spite of modern achievements in science and philosophy, Blake's achievements never became passe: "indeed some of Blake's poems seem more incontrovertible than ever since Relativity and a host of other ideologies, since evolved, have come into recognition" (Letters, p. 324). In fact, Crane found his Pocahontas and Maquokeeta in Blake's Los and Enitharmon, who also represent the sense of the inter-relatedness of space and time, the continuum so essential to Einstein's theory. Crane thus came by his awareness of the notion of Relativity not only through his readings i n the modern time-philosophy of Wyndham Lewis, Oswald Spengler and Alfred North Whitehead, but through his readings in Blake and in Damon: The great hero is Los, who represents the Poetic Instinct. He i s the ruler of Time, the Sun God (his name being an anagram for Sol)—Associated with him is his wife, or 'emanation', Enitharmon. She rules the moon, and is Goddess of Space.15 Crane's vision, then, reaps much of i t s strength from a renewal of Blake's visionary discoveries. Both writers attempted to create complete poetic statements of the voyage through the mystic way, Blake especially in The Four Zoas and Jerusalem, Crane especially i n "Voyages" and The Bridge. In each case, the mythologies are based on the same essential structural movement, from innocence to experience to higher innocence. The terms are different: Blake's London, Albion, Los, the 16 poetic s p i r i t , the Zoas, or "'Living Creatures'" and Jerusalem; Crane's America, the Poetic " I " and his lover, American folk heroes, Columbus, the poets and Atlantis. However, both are working toward the 131 same end, the achievement of the "imaged Word" ("Voyages VI"). This Word brings the lost soul home to the dawn and new creation, a unity that exists beyond a l l limitations of space and time: It i s the unbetrayable reply Whose accent no farewell can know. The Bridge i s scarcely an epic, any more than "Voyages" i s . Nevertheless, i t s conception encompasses the whole universe since, as in Blake's notion of the "minute particulars", the universe i s con-tained in each grain of sand: From going to and fro in the earth,^ and from walking up and down in i t . In diction, in size, especially in i t s "symphonic" development, the poem has epic pretensions. Each section reiterates what has been said before i n the preceding parts. The organic composition of each " l y r i c " also contains images, themes and myths that reach out towards the others, establishing strands of interconnections moving towards the accumulation of one Divine Vision, i t s f a l l and i t s recrudescence. Crane's "condensed metaphorical habit" (Letters, p. 232) had f i n a l l y found a theme worthy of i t . The power would be tested to i t s fu l l e s t performance in a poem of immense scope and of tight inner cohesion, a poem with the multitudinous expanse of dreams and the verbal necessity of destiny. What Crane saw as his achievement in "Atlantis" became his purpose throughout a l l of The Bridge: It i s symphonic in including the convergence of a l l the strands separately detailed in antecedent sections of the poem—Columbus, conquests of water, land, etc., Pokahontas, subways, offices, etc. etc. . . . The bridge in becoming a ship, a world, a woman, a tremendous harp (as i t does finally) seems to really have a career. (Letters, p. 232) 132 The poem's unity i s not that of the traditional epic, however, since i t lacks the objectivity and objective necessity demanded by this form. Crane's poem i s , rather, like Blake's and Whitman's masterpieces, a visionary prophecy, generated from the strength of the ego with i t s own private "empirical" base and from the sublimity of the poetic genius with i t s eternal "mystical" core. Although Blake's poems have a stronger sense of plot and of objective narrational direction than The Bridge, both poets' works are quite obviously achieved through the powers that they bring to them from themselves, rather than from the pressure of any external re a l i t y . Their presence in the poems as the transmitters of these visions is something that is very d i f f i c u l t to overlook. Crane i s definitely more traditional here than Blake, who plays his own private and parochial loves and hatred alongside those of his eternal Zoas. Crane develops the personal voice within that of the timeless prophet. This voice develops not through the strength of biographical evidence or through obvious direct contact with the reader, but through the individual interpenetration of h i s t o r i c a l and legendary materials, and the per-sonal hallmark of his rhetoric and diction. Crane is an interpretive poet who, like any able conductor of music, reveals his presence within essentially well-known material by f i l t e r i n g i t through his highly sensitized personality. The epic poet acts as the absolute diaphane 18 for the advancement of the "paideuma", while the l y r i c poet insists on the recognition of his presence in his statements, even i f only through conventional exposure. The poet of Crane's visionary work acts 133 as the medium for the meeting of both the personal and public worlds. IV. Blake, Crane, and Poetic Dionysianism Thus, while Crane was attempting to write revolutionary art with his favourite poets—Whitman, Blake, Rimbaud—, he remained dedicated to traditional views of the poet's role and of the personality he exposes in his poems much more than they did. Crane f e l t a strong elation in reading these writers because they cast off stern morality and i t s deadly imprisoning forces that destroy the poet's ego. Although Crane was not always friendly to such an attitude which cultivated excess, especially i n art (as can be witnessed in his disapproving, almost stuffy, comments on Gertrude Stein, Dadaism, and various avant-garde experiments), he resisted any controls on his l i f e or on his art that would restrict their natural development. Thus Blake's most Dionysian poem, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, and Joyce's much-damned Ulysses were among his favourite readings. Blake's refusal to deny a positive function to excess would have delighted Crane. In "Legend", the latter writes of his attitude towards piety and reservedness: I am not ready for repentence; Nor to match regrets. For the moth Blinds no more than the s t i l l Imploring flame. And tremorous In the white f a l l i n g flakes Kisses a r e , — The only worth a l l granting. This celebration of complete surrender to love suggests that i t is the only possible route for the true poet-saint. One becomes a saint and achieves the distinction of a legend by suffering. The a r t i s t achieves 134 a "perfect cry" not by escaping l i f e ' s pains, but by experiencing them and their cleansing powers. The way is also sexual, a way that Blake found most meaningful in achieving the new vision of wholeness: Those who restrain desire, do so because theirs i s weak enough to be restrained; and the restrainer or reason usurps i t s place and governs the unwilling. (Blake, p. 149) Love, joy, excess and even lust are a l l "Proverbs of Hell", but Hell is only e v i l for those caught in the passive chains of reason. Such people are lost to a l l creativity, victims of the belief in the cloven f i c t i o n of body and soul and of the "One law" which is "oppres-sion". Blake can thus present alarming maxims in his attempt to invert the code which he finds so damaging: The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom. Eternity i s in love with the productions of time. The lust of the goat is the bounty of God. Sooner murder an infant in his cradle than nurse unacted desires. (Blake, p. 150-151) Crane, in "Legend", stresses the need to face love, to endure a l l of it s suffering, to win a l l of i t s beauty. Throughout his work, he i s continually aware of the fact that suffering brings about "Not peni-tence/But song" i n the soul that accepts i t unremittedly. Certainly, the Dionysianism of "The Wine Menagerie" i s also as much Blake's as i t is Nietzsche's. The "Leopard ranging always in the brow", who "asserts a vision", plays a role similar to Blake's "tyger". He acts as a correlative of the "fearful symmetry" of a r t i s t i c vision found in Blake's poem. "The Wine Menagerie" also presents an image of Blake's destructive woman, the female w i l l , a figure who had a deadly reality in Crane's own l i f e . Here woman enters the vision of 135 the poet in a "hypnagogic state", redeemed by the freedom from reason and the derangement of senses allowed by the alcoholic consumption. This woman's eyes "unmake an instant of the world". Like Enitharmon, she is the emanation of the poet's soul, from whom he is divided. If the poet can be seen here as a Los-figure, the ruler of Time, then this woman's destruction of an instant i s also his destruction: What is i t in this heap the serpent p r i e s — Where skin, facsimile of time, unskins Octagon, sapphire transepts sound the eyes; The serpent's skin i s cast off when i t i s outgrown, with the arrival of the new season. Sloughed off, this time is but a "facsimile" of what i t was once, and begins to expose the eternal "transepts" con-tained in the shape of the eyes, the shape of vision. The unmaking power the woman exercises over the man is thus cruel, but i t s cruelty i s the way towards the Blakean contrary,—regeneration i n "new puri-ties". V. Poetry of Apocalypse: The Occult Image in Crane and Blake The t i t l e to Crane's f i r s t volume of verse, White Buildings, comes from the poem, "Recitative", a poem about dualism and the alche-mical, mystical powers which attempt to reunite the "twin shadowed halves". Crane attempted to explain the poem to Allen Tate, presen-ting i t in Blakean terms: Imagine the poet, say, on a platform speaking i t . The audience i s one half of Humanity, Man (in the sense of Blake) and the poet the other. ALSO, the poet sees himself in the audience as a mirror. ALSO, the audience sees i t s e l f , in part, in the poet. Against this paradoxical DUALITY is posed the UNITY, or the con-ception of i t (as you got i t ) i n the last verse. (Letters, p. 176) 136 The doubleness, presented by way of the Janus myth, mirror-image and fragmentation, moves toward occult suggestions of reunification ("Vibrant mercury", "twin shadowed halves", "white buildings", "the bridge") which blend alchemy, platonism, Blakean myth, and Crane's own vision into one whole. "White Buildings" appears to suggest Albion (the word i s said to derive from albus (L), white), who is Blake's Man, alluded to above i n Crane's analysis of the poem. The f i n a l image of "walk[ing] through time" suggests once more Blake's seeing "through the eye". The most constant influence of Blake's occult images on Crane, however, i s found in The Bridge. According to Blake, man had fallen from a Golden Age of eternity to the Iron age of reason, with i t s abstractions and i t s mechanism. Jerusalem presents the story of the f a l l and the exchanging of roles of the four Zoas as one occurrence, each Zoa giving up his territory, his emblematic metal and his function in exchange for those which are not truly his. Following the consoli-dation of error through divine intervention, the Golden Age i s restored once more. Crane's The Bridge moves from innocence to experience to higher innocence and i s also imaged in the move from the fragmenting world of iron to the millenium of richer metals—sometimes gold, but especially silver. Although the original innocence for both poets is part of the past—for Crane with Columbus, for Blake with the original integration-i t does exist as a dramatic backdrop to the "epics" of both poets. In "To Brooklyn Bridge", Crane presents the City symbolically 137 clad in i t s wintry "iron year". In this world of the "apparitional", of "sleights", of the "speechless" and "obscure", the visionary dream i s lost or un f u l f i l l e d . The harmonic curves of the gull's f l i g h t and the curve of the bridge are misunderstood. They are seen only as the shadows of their real symbolic selves that span time to eternity. These real ones are fused by the fury, the "fearful symmetry" of great art that would t e r r i f y those of the world of iron and acetylene with i t s might beyond "mere t o i l " , whiteness and the pristine dazzle of silver ("white rings of tumult", "immaculate sigh of stars", "silver-paced") suggests the purity and other-worldliness of the vision, the magnificent "guerdon. . . . Accolade" that i s both " t e r r i f i c " and "inviolate": "Prayer of pariah, and the lover's cry". The function of iron in Crane's myth is evident from i t s appear-ance in "The River", in the Iron Mountains which conceal and repress the past with i t s myth and i t s gods, and in the destructive iron which formed the railroads and axes that invaded the primeval forests: Under the Ozarks, domed by Iron Mountain, The old gods of the rain l i e wrapped in pools Where eyeless f i s h curvet a sunken fountain And re-descend with corn from querulous crows. Such pi l f e r i n g make up their timeless eatage Propitiate them for their timber torn By iron, iron—always the iron dealt cleavage! Iron, then, suggests divisiveness, while gold, as is evident in "Indiana", represents the American dream, which "the gilded promise, yielded to us never" since i t was pursued as a debased material objec-tive. The mother, in this section, finds that "gold i s true" not i n matter but in her son's s p i r i t . Since this mother, the once commer-138 c i a l New America, has pursued a false dream, the young visionary has abandoned her, looking for his true mother who w i l l be fixed in his poetic vision, held "in those eyes' engaging blue". But now that she realizes the true source of gold, she can become included i n his vision along with the sp i r i t u a l mother, Pocahontas, mother of Old America. In "Atlantis", the ecstatic climax to The Bridge, Crane's vision reaches i t s completion. The recurring appearance of "white" and "si l v e r " throughout this section demonstrates the f u l l discovery of the "i n t r i n s i c Myth". The bridge reaches "the l o f t of vision" as i t transcends space and "translate[s] time", now achieving i t s ultimate magnificence as the symbol of the eternity beyond a l l of l i f e ' s appa-rent limitation. It becomes a kind of over-soul, or rather an anima mundi, containing within i t a l l the symbols, myths, images and histori-cal events that act as keys to this transcendent outlook. "One arc synoptic of the the tides below", i t is the "white, pervasive Para-digm", the "multitudinous Verb" that is all-containing, the source of a l l meaning. The arc and i t s completion suggests another core of imagery that recurs throughout the poem. Arc, curves, rings, c i r c l e s , are a l l repetitions of the eternal "curveship" of the myth contained i n the Bridge. Other words, "vaulting", "rondure", "wheel", suggest the shaping, the rounding out of the cycle of this myth. Of course, the vision of eternity as a completed circle i s a traditional image. Crane would have found i t i n Plato, Emerson, and i n one of his favour-139 it e poets, Vaughan: I Saw Eternity the other night ^ Like a great Ring of pure and endless light. In Nietzsche and Emerson, he would find the cycle of i n f i n i t e recur-rence that he explores not only in The Bridge but again i n "The Broken Tower", his last poem. The c i r c l e , arcs and arches are, i n fact, frequent devices he uses throughout his poetry to suggest the movement towards vision or the completion of that vision. In The Bridge, this development i s evident in Crane's manipulation of images that suggest welding, fusing or binding, as well as i n images that suggest alchemical processes of purification and synthesizing (e.g., "sky's acetylene", "fury fused", The sky . . . d i s t i l l s " , "weave us into day", "connecting", "bind town to town", "rosary", "span of consciousness", "whose l a r i a t sweep encinctured"). Blake also employs the images of cycle and synthesis i n his poetry, as well as those of the baser and richer metals. In Jerusalem, these images are found, functioning together in ways very similar to those used by Crane. Some of this shared symbolism may originate from Blake's visual rendering of Noah's ark and arc-shaped, a kind of moon with a dove hovering over i t . In "To Brooklyn Bridge", Crane's gull hovers over the vaulted bridge before disappearing. Noah, of course, was the only one saved i n the flood that, for Blake, destroyed Atlan-t i s . Following this deluge, appeared "the rainbow's arch". This arch i s Crane's bridge, the "eternal rainbow" which acts as a sign of the achievement of peace and harmony in a new s t a b i l i t y . 140 Thus both Crane's and Blake's visionary "epics" work out a simi-lar "Circle of Destiny". The poems both move from the fa l l e n state back to unity by means of comparable images and myths that gather and accrete i n their pattern of meaning towards the climactic rendering of salvation. Iron i n Blake is the "nadir" of fallen man and is associa-ted with Urthona, the figure of the imagination. Since the world i s unbalanced and reversed with the f a l l , the zenith, represented by Urizen, the figure whose metal i s gold and who represents intellectual powers, i s found at the bottom of the universe's hierarchy. Like Crane, Blake's dramatic action attempts to restore the metals to their original positions as signs of the base and sublime aspects of l i f e . While both Jerusalem and The Bridge end with the re-establishment of harmony, both equally suggest that there w i l l be a continuing cycle beyond this point. It w i l l not, however, be that cycle of innocence to experience spiralling back on i t s e l f once more, but an eternal dialogue, the balance of contraries in a single harmony. The Bridge is now a harp in eternity: . . . the orphic strings Sidereal phalanxes, leap and converge: —One Song, one Bridge of Fire! Is i t Cathay, Now pity steeps the grass and rainbows ring The serpent with the eagle i n the leaves . . . ? Whisper antiphonal in azure swing. ("Atlantis") Since everything works towards this harmony, the "antiphonal" natures swing together in the cradle of one arch-rainbow. Blake's creations continue to come and go as well, but theirs i s also the active move-ment in Beulah and Eden, Blake's higher states i n his cosmology: 141 A l l Human Forms identified, even Tree, Metal Earth & Stone: a l l Human forms identified, l i v i n g , going forth & returning wearied Into the planetary lives of Years, Months, Days & Hours; reposing, And then Awaking into his Bosom in the Life of Immortality. (Blake, p. 747) In Crane's last organized group of poems, which were to appear as the Key West volume, he chose a quote from Blake as his epigraph: The starry floor, The wat'ry shore, Is given thee ' t i l the break of day. This quote, from the "Introduction" to Songs of Experience, i n d i -cates that man lives i n a world of Reason and Time and Space u n t i l the coming of the apocalypse. The t i t l e , Key West, suggests that the key to the Blakean path i s the way of compassionate love. Crane searched for this path i n "The Tunnel", a poem with an epigraph from Blake's "Morning": To Find the Western Path Right thro' the Gates of Wrath The poems of Key West do not find their way back to love since "Blake's presence", which was "indispensable" in "The Tunnel" as a "counter 20 force to the ghastly image of Poe", does not come through in these works as a force of renewal and resurrection through love and pity. Instead, the poems seem to advocate escape or despair. The power of Blake's vision, which had been so strong for Crane, must have been eclipsed by the Gates of Wrath, which, instead of opening and leading the poet into a renewed vision, engulfed him i n an inhuman darkness. The result of this i n a b i l i t y to follow Blake beyond the gloomy vision of a defeated world to a new conception of humanity i s found i n Crane's 142 last works. Apart from "The Broken Tower", these are bodiless poems that lack any but the narrowest outlook of a lost soul. VI. Conclusion The evidence of Crane's relation to British Romanticism demon-strates an a f f i n i t y to a poetry obsessed with the same dualism that tortured the American poet. The f i n de siecle influence was found to be a short-lived one which, nevertheless, prepared him for the extreme anti-empirical direction that his later poetry followed. On the other hand, the influence of the British High Romantics was most pervasive during the height of Crane's creative expression. At this time, he searched out a balance between his "mystical" and "empirical" natures in a poetry that was dedicated to a mystic-aesthetic tradition. The failure of the High Romantics to maintain this balance, or to explore i t in any new way, is evident in their later works. Although Words-worth's mature poetry is ambitious, i t is either more discursive and dull than his earlier work or i s gloomier i n i t s estimation of man's situation. Coleridge's inspiration f a i l s and lapses into silence. Shelley's last poetry, although i t is some of his most honest and profoundly moving work, i s sad and defeated. Blake's Jerusalem is a culminating major prophecy, but i t is often crotchety and dogmatic. Only Keats creates something powerful and mature in his f i n a l works, although they suggest a longing for death as a silent perfection beyond l i f e ' s uncertainties. Crane's inspiration in his later works is much feebler and more fragmented than that of the High Romantics, however, because of his 143 increasingly desperate need to preserve his visionary powers, which were evidently f a i l i n g him. This need i s based on Crane's version of Romanticism, which was much more troubled than that of the High Roman-tics . This version was, after a l l , that of a modern poet liv i n g in a world that was very low in faith. It was also the poetry of a man who grew up i n the environment of American Transcendentalist's somewhat simple-minded and tortured need for the mystic-aesthetic outlook to establish i t s e l f not only in the individual's private vision but as part of a large "en-masse" public consciousness. 144 References Chapter 5 1 Horton, p. 49 2 Unterecker, p. 641. 3 Horton, p. 287 4 Sy Kahn, "Hart Crane and Harry Crosby: A T r a n s i t of Poets", Journal of Modern L i t e r a t u r e , V o l . 1, No. 1, (1970), p. 46. 5 A point of confusion concerning t h i s reading of Damon has not yet been straightened out. Crane appears to have read the book i n 1922, since no other w r i t i n g of Damon's would f i t the d e s c r i p t i o n of "the book on Blake". However, i t was not published u n t i l 1924. Crane must have read the book i n manuscript, then, although i t i s somewhat d i f f i -c u l t to believe i t was written two years before i t was pr i n t e d . The only other conclusions possible are that Crane read i t while i t was s t i l l incomplete or that the l e t t e r i s ch r o n o l o g i c a l l y misplaced. 6 Blake: Complete Writings, ed. Geoffrey Keynes (London: Oxford Uni v e r s i t y Press, 1966) p. 97. A l l subsequent references to Blake's poetry w i l l r e f e r to t h i s text and w i l l be made i n t e r n a l l y . 7 S. Foster Damon, William Blake: His Philosophy and Symbols (Boston and New York: Houghton M i f f l i n Co., 1924), p. 24. 8 Ibid., p. 2. 9 Crane, "General Aims and Theories", i n Col l e c t e d Poems, p. 221. 10 Ibid., pp. 220-221 11 Damon, p. 65. 12 Ibid., pp. 64-65. 145 13 Bloom, Blake's Apocalypse; A Study In Poetic Argument (New York: Doubleday & Co., Inc., 1965), p. 72. 14 Damon, p. 64. 15 Ibid ., p. 69. 16 Ibid., p. 145 17 Crane, Complete Works, p. 43. 18 Ezra Pound, Guide to Kulchur (New York: New D i r e c t i o n s , 1968), p. 57. 19 Henry Vaughan, "The World", The Complete Poetry of Henry Vaughan, ed. French Fogle (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., Inc., 1969), p. 231. 20 Lewis, p. 356. 146 CHAPTER VI HART CRANE AND AMERICAN TRANSCENDENTALISM: EMERSON "What I am r e a l l y handling, you see, i s the Myth of America" (Letters, p. 305) Throughout Crane's l e t t e r s and poetry there are numerous s t r i k i n g references, or i n d i r e c t a l l u s i o n s , to America and to American l i t e r a -ture. Crane's l i f e , d i s p o s i t i o n , and dreams remained f i r s t and f o r e -most those of an American a r t i s t , dedicated to creating a poetry that grew out of h i s i n d i s s o l u b l e l i n k s with h i s country. His conscious-ness was an American one i n h i s dedication to the h i s t o r i c a l t r a d i t i o n s , c u l t u r a l a t t i t u d e s and s p i r i t u a l a s p i r a t i o n s defined by that nation. Thus, he was proud of Frank's comment that White Buildings was to be "an event i n American p o e t r y — a major event" (Letters, p. 223). The "mystic consummation" (Letters, p. 240) of h i s most ambitious poem, The Bridge, i s located r i g h t "at the center of Brooklyn Bridge" (Letters, p. 240). This i s no haphazard arrangement, since the v i s i o n -ary outlook which he attempted to project i n t h i s poem was direc t e d toward "enunciat[ing] a new c u l t u r a l synthesis of values i n terms of our America" (Letters, p. 223). While w r i t i n g The Bridge, Crane d i s -covered that the o r i g i n s of the "Myth of America" reach back to Colum-bus' voyages, and even beyond that, to the s p i r i t of the North American Indian and h i s mythology. He r e a l i z e d , however, that the conscious ordering of the American dream and the incarnation of i t s "Adamic Man", a being who was given a new chance i n a new Eden, was accomplished i n the writings of two poets of Transcendentalism, 1 Emerson and Whitman. 147 I. Emerson and Transcendentalism 2 Emerson's "The Transcendentalist" i s one of the most re v e a l i n g attempts at d e f i n i n g the somewhat unreal p o s i t i o n fostered by t h i s philosophic outlook. Not only was there "no such thing as a Trans-cendental party"; there was "no pure Transcendentalist" (Essays, p. 92) i n existence. Transcendentalism, i n e f f e c t , was "Idealism; Idealism as i t appears i n 1842" (Essays, p. 87). Founded on "consciousness" rather than on "experience", i t was a " s p i r i t u a l d octrine" without the dogmatic core that doctrines usually expound. Beginning as an attempt to restore the supersensual element to r e l i g i o n , which had been secu-l a r i z e d by empiricism's t o t a l r e l i a n c e on "human reason grounded i n natural experience", Transcendentalism became an unorthodox, icono-c l a s t i c outlook which believed i n the power of i n d i v i d u a l conscious-ness to r e a l i z e i t s own d i v i n i t y . A l l i n d i v i d u a l s and a l l aspects of nature were parts of a larger Whole, of which they were the e x i s t i n g signs. This philosophic view, which preserved America's "double tendency towards standardization and anarchy" o r i g i n a t e d , then, from a double-natured epistemology that attempted to r e l a t e "Nature" and the " s p i r i t " as the appearance and r e a l i t y of one existence. Because of h i s consciousness of the dualism that i s the nature of the present r e a l i t y , the Transcendentalist i s frequently " l o n e l y " , s o l i t a r y and withdrawn. He experiences the d i s p a r i t y between the e x i s t i n g s i t u a t i o n and the i d e a l one: These two states of thought diverge every moment, and stand i n wild contrast. To him who looks at h i s l i f e from these moments of i l l u m i n a t i o n , i t w i l l seem that 148 he skulks and plays a mean, shiftless and subaltern part in the world . . . The worst feature of this double consciousness i s , that the two lives, of the understanding and of the soul, which we lead, really show very l i t t l e relation to each other; never meet and measure each other: one prevails now, a l l buzz and din; and the other prevails then, a l l infinitude and paradise; and, with the progress of l i f e , the two discover no greater disposition to reconcile them-selves. (Essays, p. 100) His goal, however, is to master this dualism by realizing the presence of the divine nature in himself and by discovering the purpose of his "empirical" existence as a potential expression of this greater r e a l i -zation. There are several obvious links between the stands taken by English Romanticism and American Transcendentalism. Both movements are directed towards discovering a "mystical" wholeness beyond "empiri-cal " divisiveness. In fact, the Romantics provided the example that their American counterparts followed. They too rebelled against the institutionalized philosophy of Lockian empiricism, a philosophy which determined the nature and course of their contemporary religious thought. To the Transcendentalists, what had happened to the public faith i n their churches was an ominous sign of the downward direction of their own s p i r i t u a l beliefs. This faith had become less and less a question of illumination and more and more a matter of rational common-sense observation. Its purpose in existing began to seem rather questionable since i t expressed l i t t l e more than a belief in the powers of that same reason and in the desirable pursuit of human perfe c t i b i l i t y . 149 The Transcendentalists joined the Romantics i n re a s s e r t i n g the existence of i r r a t i o n a l , unrevealed powers because they recognized the r e s t r i c t i v e nature of an outlook based s t r i c t l y on the re v e l a t i o n s of sense-experience. Like Coleridge, "the most immediate for c e behind American transcendentalism,""* they went to Kant f o r a way beyond the " i l l u s o r y " philosophy of sense-experience. Their philosophy was dedicated to a b e l i e f that there were "facts not a f f e c t e d by the i l l u s i o n of sense" (Essays, p. 87), which would only be "explained" by an outlook with i d e a l i s t i c tendencies that would transcend the narrow range of an "e m p i r i c a l " viewpoint: I t i s w e l l known to most of my audience that the Idealism of the present day acquired the name of Transcendental from the use of that term by Immanuel Kant, of Konigsberg, who r e p l i e d to the s k e p t i c a l philosophy of Locke, which i n s i s t e d that there was nothing i n the i n t e l l e c t which was not previously i n the experience of the senses, by showing that there was a very important c l a s s of ideas or imperative forms, which did not come by experience, but through which experience was acquired; that these were i n t u i t i o n s of the mind i t s e l f ; and he denominated them Transcendental forms. (Essays, p. 93) Like the Engl i s h Romantics, the Transcendentalists were i n t e r e s t e d i n Kantian philosophy only because i t provided them with a frame of r e f -erence f o r an outlook that rejected the l i m i t a t i o n s of empiricism. In hi s "Introduction" to Selected Writings of the American Transcendenta- l i s t s , Hochfield c a l l s the movement a "manifestation of Romanticism": The d i v i n i t y of nature, the glory of human a s p i r a t i o n and freedom, the power of i n t u i t i o n as opposed to reason, the crea t i v e energy of the poetic i m a g i n a t i o n — these are some of the themes imported i n t o America by writers l i k e Hedge, Brownson, Ripley, and F u l l e r , as w e l l as Emerson. Indeed, Transcendentalism, as a r a d i c a l and innovating movement, invented the t y p i c a l American avant-150 g a r d e s t r a t e g y o f a l l y i n g i t s e l f w i t h E u r o p e a n m a s t e r s a s b o t h an o f f e n s i v e and a d e f e n s i v e measu re a g a i n s t c o n -s e r v a t i v e r e s i s t a n c e a t home.6 I n i t s e l f , t h e A m e r i c a n movement was no more i n t e r e s t e d t h a n R o m a n t i -c i s m was i n d e f i n i n g a c l e a r and s y s t e m a t i c w o r l d v i e w . N e v e r t h e l e s s , t h e r e a r e d i s t i n c t i o n s be tween t h e two o u t l o o k s . To b e g i n w i t h , t h i s c o n s e r v a t i v e r e s i s t a n c e i s more " a t home" t h a n H o c h f i e l d i m p l i e s . I t was n o t w i t h o u t i t s i m p a s s i o n e d e x i s t e n c e i n t h e w r i t e r s t h e m s e l v e s . I n f a c t , Roy H a r v e y P e a r c e , i n h i s b o o k , The C o n t i n u i t y o f A m e r i c a n P o e t r y , d e s c r i b e s A m e r i c a n p o e t s as " c o n s e r v a -t i v e s — o f t e n so r a d i c a l i n t h e i r c o n s e r v a t i s m as t o seem t o be r e v o l u -t i o n a r i e s . " 7 L i k e t h e T r a n s c e n d e n t a l i s t , t h e A m e r i c a n p o e t has r e f u s e d t o a c c e p t t h e p r e v a i l i n g v i e w o f r e a l i t y . He e x i s t s w i t h o u t l a w and t h u s , as Emerson s u g g e s t s , " e a s i l y i n c u r s t h e c h a r g e o f a n t i - n o m i a n i s m " : * I n s h o r t , t h e power o f A m e r i c a n p o e t r y f r o m t h e b e g i n n i n g h a s d e r i v e d f r o m t h e p o e t s ' i n a b i l i t y , o r r e f u s a l , a t some d e p t h o f c o n s c i o u s n e s s w h o l l y t o a c c e p t h i s c u l t u r e ' s s y s t e m o f v a l u e s . By t h e n i n e t e e n t h c e n t u r y t h a t r e f u s a l , f r e e d f r o m i t s m a t r i x i n P u r i t a n dogma, has been i n e f f e c t t r a n s f o r m e d i n t o i t s o p p o s i t e , a mode o f a s s e n t ; and t h e A m e r i c a n p o e t a g a i n and a g a i n imaged h i m s e l f — i n E m e r s o n ' s and W h i t m a n ' s w o r l d — a s an Adam who , s i n c e he m i g h t w e l l b e one w i t h G o d , was c e r t a i n l y one w i t h a l l men. The c o n t i n u i t y o f t h i s n a r r a t i v e i s t h a t o f t h e a n t i n o m i n i a n , A d a m i c i m p u l s e , a s i t t h r u s t s a g a i n s t a c u l t u r e made by A m e r i c a n s who come more and more t o be f r i g h t e n e d b y i t , e v e n a s t h e y r e a l i z e t h a t i t i s b a s i c t o t h e v e r y i d e a o f t h e i r s o c i e t y : one ( i n W h i t m a n ' s w o r d s ) o f s i m p l e , s e p a r a t e p e r s o n s , y e t d e m o c r a t i c , e n - m a s s e . 9 The A m e r i c a n p o e t t h u s becomes a r e f u s e r , a l t h o u g h h e t r i e s , i n a l l d e s p e r a t i o n , t o make t h i s r e f u s a l a " y e s " by c o n f r o n t i n g t h e norm o f a s t r i c t l y p r a c t i c a l s e n s a t i o n - b a s e d o u t l o o k w i t h a w o r k a b l e c o u n t e r -v i s i o n . T h i s v i s i o n may s t i m u l a t e t h e c r e a t i o n o f a c o u n t e r - c u l t u r e 151 dedicated to sp i r i t u a l enterprise. And yet, this poet always feels the need to be on guard against anarchy and despair. Since the American poet feels the desperateness of l i v i n g i n a dualistic condition much more than the English Romantic did, his obligation to achieve a sense of unity i s a much more compelling one. The unmitigated antagonism between his place in a democratic tradition wherein he i s one man among many, and his vatic role which insists that he i s a special person communicating exclusive knowledge, has caused him to l i v e a l i f e based on a severe conflict of loyalties. From his very origins within the Puritan tradition, wherein art i s always subordinate to faith, this poet has always f e l t the uncomfort-ableness of creating a poetry expressive of the private ego alone. English poets, on the other hand, were more interested in exploring this r i f t than in sacrificing i t to the new expression of some third thing. Such a sacrifice would involve the loss of the aristocracy of the ego as well as the nobility of i t s self-discovery. The suffering of this ego was, thus, enhanced as part of the way to i t s own se l f -enrichment. If the situation that this ego was forced to endure was a sad and painful one, the poet expressed i t as such, without feeling the American's drive to master i t through an obsessive cosmic optimism, which envisioned faith not as a challenge or c r i s i s but as a virtue which a Calvinistic-minded God was obliged to reward. If the Romantic was forced to abandon either foothold, he could more easily give up the "empirical" one, since the "mystical" one could always provide i t s own ill u s i o n . The poet celebrating the nobility of the self could hardly 152 be expected to choose the route that would lead him to celebrating sense-experience as the limit of human experience. The American poet's resolution of this debate would be a d i f f i c u l t one, even i f he managed to escape i t s conflict of interests i n a third world of art: To the true romantic, however fa i t h f u l an a r t i s t he might be, the language of a poem could never take on this auto-nomous quality. However carefully elaborated, the words remained a self-expression, the vehicle of personal ideas or emotions; the literary work was formed in the writer's soul, and language was merely the instrument of expression. For Wordsworth, ' a l l good poetry is the spontaneous over-flow of powerful feelings'—an emanation, generalized by the poets' basic resemblance to a l l other men, from the personality of the poet. For E l i o t , on the other hand, the prime fact is that 'the poet has, not a 'personality 1 to express, but a particular medium, which i s only a medium and not a personality, in which impressions and experiences combine in peculiar and unexpected ways.' Here the roman-t i c conception of self-expression has passed into a totally different ideal: exploitation of the medium.-^ The poet's conception of this symbolizing process i s obviously com-plete in i t s self-consciousness. Nevertheless, such a view contra-dicts the very basis of a democratic-minded Transcendentalism which fostered Crane's view of "literature as very close to l i f e , — a n d i t s essence, in fact" (Letters, p. 191). The American poet's attempt to resolve the dualism always obliged him to turn back to i t for i t s own resolution, since the theory of symbols, the pantheistic outlook, the pursuit of harmony and the realization of individuality were aspects of an organically disposed ontology developing out of a d i a l e c t i c a l consciousness. Radical and unorthodox, conservative and self-vindica-ting, the Transcendentalist was, paradoxically, forced to preserve 153 Emerson's outlook i n order to be able to overcome i t : "And so always the soul's scale i s one, the scale of the senses and the understanding i s another" (Essays, p. 265). Of course, Emerson's own career was dedicated to transcending t h i s dualism which he f e l t compelled to define over and over again. II. Crane's Relation to Transcendentalism Crane's r e l a t i o n to the t r a d i t i o n upon which the works of Emerson and Whitman are based i s evident throughout the body of h i s works. This t r a d i t i o n i s p a r t i c u l a r l y s i g n i f i c a n t to the scope and r a t i o n a l e of The Bridge, a non-epic "epic" of Transcendental-minded s e l f - j u s t i f i -cation. Crane's poem was an attempt to r e l a t e h i s poetic and pragmatic outlooks i n a magnum opus which would place him i n d i r e c t r e l a t i o n to a culture wherein democracy was not mere e g a l i t a r i a n i s m but the r e a l i z a t i o n of each man's awareness of h i s sacred part i n the plan of a harmonic cosmos. Born to a mid-Western family that held considerable s o c i a l status i n i t s community, Crane was made aware of h i s r e s p o n s i b i l i t y to h i s society and to h i s country from a very early age. Since h i s family members belonged to a s o l i d upper middle c l a s s , they encouraged the c u l t i v a t i o n of s e l f - r e l i a n c e and the achievement of s o c i a l s o l i d a r i t y and m a t e r i a l success. Crane's early l e t t e r s to h i s father a f f e c t a manly pose of balance and sound judgment. In 1919 he wrote to h i s f r i e n d , William Wright, that "the most prominent c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of America", namely i t s "commercial aspect", did not force the poet to "surrender. . . everything else nobler and better i n h i s a s p i r a t i o n s " 154 (Letters, p. 19). Thus, at this early time in his career, his father's influence caused him to envision himself as a truly American poet, de-dicated to celebrating his country's spiritual and material progress as parts of one democratic Utopia. Crane's mother was a member of the Christian Science congregation, Mary Baker Eddy's curiously American amalgam of idealism and pragmatism which advanced great testimonials of medical "cures" by paradoxically denying the actual existence of diseases. 1 1 Crane's drive for an i n -spirational optimism and the quest for success and admiration in his mother's eyes are thus aspects of the Transcendental-rooted background. In spite of his i n a b i l i t y to absorb his mother's religion completely, his comments to his father in a letter written after his parents had separated reflect his religious outlook as well as his dedication to his family as one of i t s trio of sufferers: But please, my dear Father, do not make the present too hard,—too painful for one whose fatal weakness i s to love two unfortunate people, by writing barbed words. I don't know how long we three shall dwell in purgatory. We may rise above, or sink below, but either way i t may be, the third shall and must follow the others, and I leave myself in your hands. (Letters, p. 8) In spite of the fact that Crane eventually became dissatisfied with his relations with his parents and attempted to break contact with them completely, he remained always very much their son. Thus when he became obsessed with escaping his mother's influence, his major poem, The Bridge, was frequently involved in searching her out in his vision of America as mother-country. In his last years, he was trying to find a balance in his creative and sexual urges that was 155 based on his father's example of the successful self-disciplined parent. The exemplary role his father had for him is evident in a letter written at the time of the former's death: And i f my father had to go thus early in l i f e — I ' m very grateful that at least I am l e f t with a f u l l e r appreciation of his fine qualities and of his genuine love for me than might have been possible without the course of some recent events. I can say that his character and the impress of i t that I lately received w i l l be a real inspiration to me. (Letters, p. 377) Crane f e l t the same way about his country as he did about his family. He could distrust America's barbarity as i t was represented by those nationalists who celebrated i t s " f u t i l e & fussy inanities" by staging a crude and showy "'pee-rade'": . . . I spent two hours of painful rumination ending with such disgust at America and everything in i t , that I more than ever envy you your [i.e., Munson's] egress to foreign parts. No place but America could relish & applaud any-thing so stupid & drab as that parade . . . Our people have no atom of a conception of beauty—and don't want i t . . . If ever I f e l t alone i t has been today. (Letters, p. 62) Nevertheless, he was celebrating Anderson's f i c t i o n at that time and writing his poem on the "pantomime of Charlie", "Black Tambourine". By 1923, Crane not only expressed the view that he f e l t "him[self] directly connected with Whitman" (Letters, p. 128) but envisioned his poetic future as that of America's machine-age prophet. By this time he had established even more significant ties to his Transcendental heritage through his close friendship with Munson and, especially, Waldo Frank. The latter figure, with whom he began a regular correspondence in 1922, was, Crane believed, "the most v i t a l consciousness in America" (Letters, p. 130). Frank, a writer of some 156 repute, had sent Crane l e t t e r s celebrating h i s poem, "For the Marriage of Faustus and Helen." Crane read these reactions and concluded that Frank was the only one who "gripped the mystical content of the poem so thoroughly that I despair of ever f i n d i n g a more s a t i s f y i n g enthu-s i a s t " (Letters, p. 129). Frank's Our America (1919) and The Rediscovery of America (1929) were Whitmanian books that attempted to bring h i s country to a f u l l awareness of i t s mystical p o t e n t i a l . Frank was a much-touted author at t h i s time. His Our America had been acclaimed 12 "the Manifesto of the Twenties." In 1923 Munson had h a i l e d him as 13 "the most e x c i t i n g f i g u r e i n contemporary l e t t e r s . " For Frank, America could recognize her f u l l p o t e n t i a l of m y s t i c a l s e l f - r e c o g n i t i o n i f she would turn to whitman: I look on Whitman today not so much as a c u l t u r a l possession of America . . we have not yet won him . . but rather as a Challenge. He i s a challenge to our l i t e r a t u r e , to our c r i t i c i s m , to our i n s t i t u t i o n s , to our e n t i r e s o c i a l p o l i t y , to grow up to h i s own u n i v e r s a l Norm. The prophets were such a challenge to the Hebrews . . and they accepted i t . Let us do l i k e w i s e . - ^ Such a recognition had to go beyond "mere passive love" 1"' of America's great poet-prophet to an attempt to apply h i s message towards a com-pl e t e renewal of l i f e - s t y l e . Crane's d e c i s i o n to w r i t e The Bridge grew out of the acceptance of Frank's "symphonic" and "mystic" prophe-c i e s , not as mere words but as the heart of America's true p o e t i c v i s i o n . Crane had to r i s e above hi s d i s l i k e of Frank's "thoroughly l o g i c a l and propagandistic" (Letters, p. 27) outlook i n Our America, h i s own strong anti-Semitism (Letters, p. 34) and h i s d i s l i k e of Frank's rather neurotic prose s t y l e . Only then could he celebrate 157 Frank's work by acclaiming i t s Whitmanian urge to "touch the clearest veins of eternity flowing through the crowds around us" (Letters, p. 145). Having already identified himself with the dualism i n English Romanticism, Crane had now found a way of handling the inherent con-f l i c t between the " I " and the "non-I" that was closest to his own native ambience. By looking for a symphonic style and scope that would contain the " I " in the collective history of a new Eden, Crane was rediscovering the promise of American Transcendentalism. 16 III. "Two Laws Discrete:" Emerson's Bi-Polar Vision Emerson's essay, "The Over-Soul," suggests the bi-polar vision of the soul's scale and the scale of the senses, but also the attempt to master this division. In that essay, he attempted to show the limita-tions of an empiricist-based outlook and to discover the fulfilment of human nature i n the recognition of "the eternal ONE" (Essays, p. 262), which unites "the act of seeing and the thing seen, the seer and the spectacle, the subject and the object." For Emerson, the present l i f e is a mere potency, a particle of i t s true whole, since "Man i s a stream whose source i s hidden." The empirical view i s too delimiting since man has yearnings that exceed i t s hopes which he must strive to f u l f i l : Our faith comes in moments; our vice i s habitual. Yet there i s a depth in those brief moments which constrains us to ascribe more reality to them than to a l l other experiences. For this reason the argument which i s always forthcoming to silence those who conceive extraordinary hopes of man, name-ly the appeal to experience, i s forever invalid and 158 vain. We give up the past to the objector, and yet we hope. He must explain this hope. We grant that human l i f e i s mean, but how did we find out that i t was mean? What is the ground of this universal sense of want and ignorance, but the fine innuendo by which the soul makes i t s enormous claim? (Essays, p. 261) At times, however, this quest for unity seemed very distant. The honesty of his poetry and essays i s based on his recognition of the divisiveness of l i f e and the problems the poet faces in attempting to overcome i t . In "Ode, Inscribed to W.H. Channing" Emerson attempted to answer a problem that Channing had diagnosed concerning this dilemma that ran throughout Emerson's writings. Channing's perception was a very accurate one: I feel distinctly my honored friend, i n relation to this address Emerson's Divinity School Address, what I fee l in relation to a l l that I have read of your writings, that there i s one radical defect, which, like a wound in the bark, wilts and blights the leaf and bloom and f r u i t of your faith. You deny the Human Race. You Stand, or rather seek to stand, a complete Adam. But you cannot do it.17 Emerson's answer could really only serve to outline the problem once more: There are two laws discrete, Not reconciled,— Law for man, and law for thing; The last builds town and fleet, But i t runs wild, And doth the man unking. (Poems, p. 62) The division was, then, something that he f u l l y acknowledged. In fact, he wrote a poem called "The Problem" which presents his fascination 159 with the vatic, priestly role for the poet simultaneously with his attempt to recoil from this role because of some feeling of unpleasant-ness associated with i t . Although Emerson begins with the line, "I like a church; I like a cowl", he feels obliged to end his poem with: And yet, for a l l his faith could see, I would not the good bishop be. (Poems, p. 78) Emerson's journal provides interesting commentary on this same point: It i s very grateful to my feelings to go into a Roman Cathedral, yet I look as my countrymen do at the Roman priesthood. It i s very grateful to me to go into an English Church and hear the liturgy read. Yet nothing would induce me to be the English priest. I find an unpleasant dilemma i n this, nearer home. I dislike to be a clergyman and refuse to be one. Yet how rich a music would be to me a holy clergyman in my town. It seems to me he cannot be a man, quite and whole; yet how plain i s the need of one, and how high, yes, highest, i s the function. Here i s division of labor I like not. A man must sacri-fice his manhood for the social good. Something i s wrong. I see not what.-^ Once again, in "Saadi", a poem of the Emersonian persona, the dilemma is presented, and remains painfully unsolved: Yet Saadi loved the race of men,— No churl, immured in cave or den; In bower and h a l l He wants them a l l , Nor can dispense With Persia for his audience; They must give ear, Grow red with joy and white with fear; But he has no companion; Come ten, or come a million, Good Saadi dwells alone. x9 Channing had accurately diagnosed the situation. Emerson was able to love the race, but not the man. The love was that of one dependent on 160 men for an audience, of one who would love them f o r what they would be through him and h i s action, not for themselves. Thus, l i k e h i s Trans-cendentalist, Emerson was "alone" and "l o n e l y , " s u f f e r i n g the f e e l i n g of detachment and a l i e n a t i o n i n sp i t e of h i s ambition to love mankind. A l l of h i s "other" was l i k e that. I t could be accepted as h i s audience, the screen f o r h i s v i s i o n , only a f t e r i t was generalized and f i l t e r e d through h i s own ego. Thus, i n "Nominalist and R e a l i s t , " he defines hi s p o s i t i o n as one content to be a u n i v e r s a l i z e r who transcends the fragmentary world of the great p a r t i c u l a r i z e r , Nature: Let us go f o r universals. . . Human l i f e and i t s persons are poor empirical pretensions. A personal influence i s an ignus fatuus. (Essays, p. 437) In t h i s abstracted world, Emerson found that he could avoid having to face the flaws and inconsistencies of imperfect l i f e , i n c l u d i n g h i s own imperfection and that of h i s fellow human beings. And yet Nature, and of course human nature, w i l l not r e l e n t : Nature w i l l not be Buddhist: she resents ge n e r a l i z i n g , and i n s u l t s the philosopher i n every moment with a m i l l i o n of f r e s h p a r t i c u l a r s . It i s a l l i d l e t a l k i n g : as much as man i s a whole, so i s he also a part; and i t were p a r t i a l not to see i t . (Essays, p. 441) Emerson would not simply abandon the problem of t h i s contradic-t i o n as one of " i d l e t a l k i n g " , however, but i n s i s t e d on f i n d i n g a way through i t . For t h i s reason, he draws a p o r t r a i t of man as an "amphi-bious creature, weaponed f o r two elements, having two sets of f a c u l t i e s , the p a r t i c u l a r and the c a t h o l i c " (Essays, p. 437). Although h i s outlook i s mainly dir e c t e d towards the order of the u n i v e r s a l , the p a r t i c u l a r i z i n g acts as a kind of counter-current, a conscience that 161 would not be foregone. Thus Emerson presents a l l his fascination with the "mystical" world — t h e world of generalities, of priesthood, of teacher of men, only to follow i t with the "and yet" of the empirical one. Without f i r s t making considerable effort at dehumanization and self-delusion, he was unable to pass completely into the realm of his egocentricity wherein the poet would create his own universe. The denaturing of the ego at times l e f t the poet a hopelessly disembodied, passive force adrift in the cosmos: I become a transparent eyeball; I am nothing; I see a l l ; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or parcel of God. (Essays, p. 6) The direction he allowed himself to take was only charted by a one-way sign: "Every materialist w i l l be an idealist; but an idealist can never go backward to be a materialist" (Essays, p. 87). The material world could be a "hieroglyph" for the real world of the s p i r i t : We are symbols and inhabit symbols; workmen, work, and tools, words and things, birth and death, a l l are emblems; but we sympathize with the symbols, and being infatuated with the economical uses of things, we do not know that they are thoughts. The poet, by an ulterior intellectual perception, gives them a power which makes their old use forgotten, and puts eyes and a tongue into every dumb and inanimate object. (Essays, p. 328) Once he had accepted i t s po s s i b i l i t i e s as the groundwork for his f u l l e r realization, the Transcendentalist could safely abandon the empirical world for an ideal one. That safety was only ensured, how-ever, for the length of time that the subject refused to look back. 162 If he did, he would then r e a l i z e that what had been achieved was i l l u s o r y . Like the angel i n h i s poem, " U r i e l , " Emerson had rejected the l i n e f o r the c i r c l e , the law f o r the truth. He had shown how the question of uniform law made no sense; since, i f l i f e r e a l l y were c y c l i c a l , nothing could remain constant but would eventually go back on i t s e l f : " E v i l w i l l b l e s s , and i c e w i l l burn" (Poems, p. 34). He could not, however, accept t h i s confusion, but f e l t a need to b e l i e v e i n man and h i s impulses as the source of wholeness and of the way to achieving i t . He also needed to b e l i e v e that "Nature never wears a mean appearance" (Essays, p. 5). Hence, f o r Emerson's poet, man d i r e c t s himself toward a millenium of restored v i s i o n : 'The kingdom of man over nature, which cometh not with o b s e r v a t i o n — a dominion such as now i s beyond hi s dream of God—he s h a l l enter without more wonder than the b l i n d man f e e l s who i s gradually restored to si g h t ' . (Essays, p. 42) If t h i s achievement i s t r u l y possible, then the discovery of imperma-nence, that "medial" q u a l i t y of l i f e , does have some law beyond i t . But can t h i s s i t u a t i o n r e a l l y ever be r e a l i z e d , or do we experience the "blush" that "tinged the upper sky" (Poems, p. 35) i n " U r i e l " f o r shamefully b e l i e v i n g i n i t s p o s s i b i l i t y ? Emerson was never able to answer t h i s question f o r himself i n any complete and f i n a l way. IV. Crane's Emersonianism With such p e r p l e x i t y and turmoil i n h i s background, i t i s no wonder that Crane was confused and troubled i n the face of h i s struggle to write a poetry of r e a l i z a t i o n . Although h i s l e t t e r s c i t e but one 163 brief reference to Emerson, undoubtedly Emersonianism, especially as transmitted through the "saner" ego of whitman, was the foundation of his thought. Winters c l a r i f i e s this argument in his study, "The Significance of The Bridge, by Hart Crane, or What are We to Think of 20 Professor X?", an essay which attempts to expose Emerson and to condemn him and Whitman for instigating Crane's suicide. Winters recognizes Emerson's ideas as "the commonplace ideas of the romantic movement, from the time of the third Earl of Shaftesbury 21 to the present." He vaguely implies that Emerson's restating of these ideas was of importance, especially when they were moved from 22 their i n i t i a l position to "the American context". Because he sees Romanticism as a devolutionary movement in poetry and an aberration to cultural growth, Winters always presents i t in negative terms, as the enemy. He could not understand how Crane could accept i t s simplistic doctrines in such an equally simplistic way: I once argued this issue i.e., [the Emersonian issue that "man i n death remains immortal while losing his identity"] with Crane, and when he could not convert me by reason, he said: 'Well, i f we can't believe i t , we'll have to kid ourselves into believing i t . ' 2 3 For Crane, the powers of reason would never have been able to explain this faith anyway, since this " l i e " of the "incognizable Word" defies any capacity for rational judgment. No matter how bewildering the Transcendental position appeared when subjected to Winters' rational approach, Crane f e l t more comfort-able trapped within i t than without i t . Crane wrote to Winters that he f e l t "a good deal of sympathy with [his] viewpoint i n general" 164 (Letters, p.298). Nevertheless, he stated that he believed the r a t i o n a l approach to '"the complete man'" to be too " l o g i c a l , so much so that I am i n c l i n e d to doubt the success of your program even with yo u r s e l f " (Letters, p.299). Although h i s response to Emersonianism was not completely u n c r i t i c a l , Crane found t h i s outlook the fundamen-t a l unchallengeable f a i t h supporting h i s poetic v i s i o n . Consequently he was content with "such moments of ' i l l u m i n a t i o n ' as are occa s i o n a l l y p o s s i b l e " (Letters, p. 302). For Crane, a "methodical and predeter-mined. . . method of development" was something he could not " t r u s t " (Letters, p. 301.) Pointing out correspondence between Crane's and Emerson's work i s a simple task. A study of the t r a n s f i g u r a t i o n of Nature i n Crane's "For the Marriage of Faustus and Helen" reveals an outlook c l o s e l y p a r a l l e l to Emerson's, as found i n h i s essay, "Nature." For Emerson, as f o r Crane, the poet takes up the Transcendentalist p o s i t i o n which sees the world as "the shadow of that substance which you are" (Essays, p. 90). In r e a l i z i n g t h i s substance, he i s also achieving a place i n "the whole connection of s p i r i t u a l doctrine": He believes i n miracle, i n the perpetual openness of the human mind to new i n f l u x of l i g h t and power; he believes i n i n s p i r a t i o n , and i n ecstasy. He wishes that the s p i r i t u a l p r i n c i p l e should be suffered to demonstrate i t s e l f to the end, i n a l l p ossible applications to the state of man, without the admission of anything u n s p i r i t u a l . . . (Essays, p. 90) Crane's Faustus i s dedicated to the f u l f i l m e n t of h i s desires to know the beauty of h i s woman, Helen. Before long, however, he has climbed Emerson's "s p i r e s of form" and i s searching f o r a l e s s m a t e r i a l goal. 165 At t h i s point, he sees that beyond "the body of the world" which i s lim i t e d by i t s m o r t a l i t y ("may g l i d e diaphanous to death"), there i s a world of "hourless days" which manifests a complete and timeless v i s i o n of beauty ("glowing out of p r a i s e " ) . For Crane's poet-hero, Nature serves what Emerson c a l l s "a nobler want of man . . . namely, the love of Beauty" (Essays, p. 9). Such a love o f f e r s man clues to "the presence of a higher" (Essays, p. 11) state of the s p i r i t , a "univ e r s a l s o u l " which i s found "within or behind h i s i n d i v i d u a l l i f e " : Every n a t u r a l f a c t i s a symbol of some s p i r i t u a l f a c t . Every appearance i n nature corresponds to some states of the mind, and that state of the mind can only be described by presenting the natural appearance as i t s p i c t u r e . (Essays, p. 15) Emerson's view of Art as an alchemical route to the r e a l i z a t i o n of Nature's p e r f e c t i o n i s found i n Crane's poem as w e l l , wherein the quotation from Jonson's "The Alchemist" and the reference to "conver-sion", e s p e c i a l l y achieved through Transubstantiation, are clues to the r e a l i z a t i o n of the power of poetic v i s i o n . This poetic v i s i o n e f f e c t s a metamorphosis of the s p i r i t through i t s contact with the wholeness that l i e s behind the apparent beauty of an i n d i v i d u a l sub-stance or creature: The standard of beauty i s the en t i r e c i r c u i t of natu r a l forms—the t o t a l i t y of nature . . . Nothing i s quite b e a u t i f u l alone; nothing but i s b e a u t i f u l i n the whole. A s i n g l e object i s only so f a r b e a u t i f u l as i t suggests t h i s u n i v e r s a l grace. The poet, the painter, the sculptor, the musician, the a r c h i t e c t , seek each to concentrate the radiance of the world on one point, and each i n h i s several work to 166 satisfy the love of beauty which stimulates him to produce. Thus is Art a nature passed through the alembic of man. Thus in art does Nature work through the w i l l of a man f i l l e d with the beauty of her f i r s t works. (Essays, pp. 13-14) Crane's poet strives to achieve this transcendental vision of beauty through the realization of the ideal in the actual. The poet's worship of his woman and the act of sexual intercourse lead to the realization of a union beyond the flesh, expressed by the sacred terms of con-secration. There are other terms which Crane uses to describe this s p i r i t u a l change, which are similar to Emerson's. At f i r s t Faustus' l i f e i s "divided", a sequence of "stacked partitions". Emerson, i n "The Over-Soul", also reminds man that he lives "in succession, in division, in parts, in particles" (Essays, p. 262). He sees that "the axis of vision i s not coincident with the axis of things, and so they appear not transparent but opaque" (Essays, p. 41). For Crane's hero, the eventual realization that the mortal l i f e may be, after a l l , trans-parent ("diaphanous"), opens the way to the achievement of "the kingdom of man over nature" (Essays, p. 42). Man w i l l no longer be "'a god in ruin'" (Essays, p. 39), but a new innocent, f u l l of the immortality which he has achieved. In place of the "million b r i t t l e , bloodshot eyes", Crane's poet-hero finds "one inconspicuous, glowing orb of praise", his visionary counterpart to Emerson's "transparent eyeball" that looks beyond the l i f e of " a l l mean egotism" (Essays, p. 6). In "Sunday Morning Apples", both the subject and i t s actual mood 167 relate to the Emersonian praise of the spontaneity of impulse. Nature, as man's subjective experience, transfigured in his imagina-tion, becomes the source, the secret "mystical" integration that man would recapture: I have seen the apples there that toss you secrets,— Beloved apples of seasonable madness That feed your inquiries with aerial wine Put them again beside a pitcher with a knife, And poise them f u l l and ready for explosion— The apples, B i l l , the apples.' Emerson's reckoning of the world as "an appearance" sees nature as a "reflector" or a "subjective phenomenon]" (Essays, p. 89), subject to the control of the mind, "the only reality" and, hence, i t s creator. Sommers, the painter who inspired Crane's poem, and the " B i l l " in i t s last exclamatory line, i n such a creator. The natural world "toss[es] . . . secrets" to this a r t i s t , since his imagination projects an energy outward to the dead world of appearances, which makes i t alive and "ready for explosion." The apples, signs of a new Eden, are thus the raw materials for a new "intoxication." Like the figure in Emer-son's poem, "Bacchus," Crane's " I " is searching for a "wine which never grew/ In the belly of the grape" (Poems, p. 45). It i s the "wine of wine", or, as he calls i t , the "aerial wine", which comes from inspiration and which man consumes in order to reach the state of spontaneous flow with nature, a highly personal "mystical" height: A boy runs with a dog before the sun, straddling Spontaneities that form their independent orbits, Their own perennials of light In the valley where you live (called Brandywine) 168 Crane's images of freedom and of confluence with Nature, of impulsive spontaneity and individuality of experience, of innocence and eternity, owe a strong debt to Emerson. Like the " I " in "Bacchus", his " I " would also have the true wine so that he would achieve total regenera-tion of the external world in his "real" imaginary paradise: That I intoxicated, And by the draught assimilated, May float at pleasure through a l l nature. (Poems, pp. 45-46) The fascination with the apple appears also in "Garden Abstract," an Edenic vision of disappearance into nature ("Reason in Nature's lotus drenched", "Bacchus", Poems, p. 47). The woman experiencing the vision "has no memory, nor fear, nor hope/Beyond the grass and shadows at her feet." Emerson also advocated what Winters called the "concept of auto-24 matism as the equivalent of the mystical experience." This concept led Crane to write "automatic poems" like "Havana Rose", which depict the state beyond logic, between the worlds of hallucination and vision: Place yourself in the middle of the stream of power and wisdom which flows into you as l i f e , place yourself in the f u l l center of that flood, then you are without effort impelled to truth, to right, and to perfect content-ment. (Essays, p. 198) The advice that Crane's Doctor gives, who "was an American, also" (an aside which shows Crane's awareness of the Americanness of this approach), stems directly from an outlook which pursues Emerson's optimistic quest for wholeness: 169 You cannot heed the negative—so might go on to understand doom. . . must therefore loose yourself within a pattern's mastery that you can conceive, that you can yield to—by which also you win and gain mastery and happiness which i s your own from birth. In "Eternity", the feverish state takes the speaker on a hallu-cinatory voyage. The eternal cosmic disorder of the severe hurricane quickly becomes the feverish inner state, f u l l of discordant graphic nightmare visions that lead to the vision of "Eternity" as the "vast phantom" horse-creature of the Apocalypse. "The Bridge of Estador" presents a b i t of Emersonian anti-rational advice: Do not think too deeply and you'll find A soul, an element in i t a l l . In Crane, as in Emerson, the way to pantheism i s through the individual's quest for vision: High on the bridge of Estador Where no one has ever been before,— I do not know what you'll see,—your vision May slumber yet in the moon, awaiting Far consummation of the tides to throw Clean on the shore some wreck of dreams. "Legend" is Crane's version of the way to sainthood, in particu-lar to the poet-saint state, achieved through an individual non-conformist, non-repentant involvement in l i f e and love. The speaker's statement, "I am not ready for repentance;/Nor to match regrets," i s an echo of the sentiment expressed in "Self-Reliance": I do not wish to expiate, but to l i v e . My l i f e i s for i t s e l f and not for a spectacle. (Essays, p. 149) For Emerson this attitude was not one of mere rebellion against society but reflected the largeness of the Transcendentalists' "antinomianism" which was not about to be restricted by some narrow, dogmatic morality. 170 Transcendentalism thus earned for i t s e l f the t i t l e of "the Saturnalia or excess of Faith" since i t was ready to believe "that there was no crime but has sometimes been a virtue" (Essays, pp. 91-92). This dia-l e c t i c a l minded view, which was also voiced in Blake's "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell," appealed to Crane since i t freed him from the constrictions of a r i g i d rationalistic morality. For Blake, Emerson and Crane, "excess" always led to greater wisdom because i t preserved spontaneity and freedom. In "A Name for A l l " , the loss of freedom involved in naming the particulars of a natural world echoes Emerson's essay, "The Poet", wherein he speaks of language as " f o s s i l poetry". The poet is the one who must rename things, since the old language " i s made up of images or tropes, which now, in their secondary use, have long ceased to remind us of their poetic origin" (Essays, p. 329). These names are not chosen a r b i t r a r i l y , however: He [i.e. the poet] uses forms according to the l i f e , not according to the form. This i s true science. . . By virtue of this science the poet is the Namer or Language-maker, naming things sometimes after their appearance, sometimes after their essence, and giving every one i t s own name and not another's, thereby rejoicing the i n t e l l e c t , which delights in detachments or boundary. (Essays, p. 329) Because of his roots in an Emersonian quest for a monism, for a "trans-25 cendent Oneness of a l l being", Crane sees a l l creation "free and holy in one Name always". Crane's approach in The Bridge is also much determined by Emerson's thought. Since, as Emerson wrote in his essay, "The Poet", "the Universe i s the externization of the soul" (Essays, p. 329), history 171 is the externization of the record of one mind's discoveries: There i s one mind common to a l l individual men. Every-man i s an in l e t to the same and to a l l of the same . . . Who hath access to this universal mind i s a party to a l l that is or can be done, for this i s the only and sovereign agent. Of the works of the mind history i s the record. Its genius i s illustrated by the entire series of days. Man i s explicable by nothing less than a l l his history. (Essays, p. 124) For Emerson, " A l l history i s sacred", since i t represents "the universe . . . in an atom, in a moment of time" (Essays, p. 278). Therefore, in relating the vision of America through history and folklore, Crane believed he was not relating the story of one person alone, or of one country, but of the realization of one universal mind. Because he wanted to believe in Emerson's "universal impulseto believe" (Essays, p. 358), he struggled to create a poem that showed how the history of the American continent and the construction of Brooklyn Bridge was of a spanning; an attempt to reach ever-onward toward the realization of a myth dedicated to the "Everpresence, beyond time" ("Atlantis"). Emerson saw the Ideal as something on the horizon, always beyond reach, that man aims to achieve. Experience is always directed onward, and skepticism, the backwash, must be transformed into affirmation— the "no" into the everlasting "yes": Onward and onward! In liberated moments we know that a new picture of l i f e and duty i s already possible; the elements already exist in many minds around you of a doctrine of l i f e which shall transcend any written record we have. The new statement w i l l comprise the skepticisms as well as the faiths of society, and out of unbeliefs a creed shall be formed. (Essays, p. 358) 172 That such was Crane's basic motivation is patently illustrated i n his words to Charlotte Rychtarik: I want to keep saying 'Yes' to everything and never be beaten a moment, and I shall, of course, never be really beaten. (Letters, p. 148) There is a degree of pathetic naivete both in this statement and i n the attempt to make the "cipher-script of time" read eternity or to make "like hails, farewells." At the same time, the poetry i s built on an adamant resolve to force such cosmic optimism to work at any cost. For Crane, the cost would be very great, but unavoidably so. In The Bridge he could make "The Tunnel" lead to "Atlantis", but, after that, he would never again be sure that he could carry off the spoils in a contest of "yes" and "no". Consequently, the parallel between Crane's work and Emersonian Transcendentalism i s a less than perfect one. Because he could not deny the reality of e v i l and pain in human experience, Crane's poetry of mature vision inevitably accepts the existence of an alternate outlook which is more c r i t i c a l l y skeptical than Emerson's. Certainly Crane was frequently emotionally committed to Emerson's doctrine, or at least willed himself to be. This wi l f u l struggle was based on his attempt to counteract an undesired awareness of the possible illusory nature of Romanticism that was stubbornly entrenched in his conscious-ness. Crane fought against himself, either to realize this chimera more f u l l y in his art or to overwhelm i t in his l i f e . Ironic as i t may seem, the evidence in Crane's art of his hereti-cally anti-Transcendentalist doubts is clearest in the very poems that 173 are f u l l of Emerson. Because this Emersonianism is handled with such clarity and enthusiasm, the surrounding shades of skepticism are silhouetted a l l the more precisely here. For example, the achievement of spontaneity in "Sunday Morning Apples" is countered by the captur-ing of i t in an ordered poem. In "Garden Abstract", the liberating pantheistic aspect of nature also has a prisoning effect, probably because Crane realized that the loss of the ego that dwells in the "empirical" world was an undeniably painful sacrifice. In "The Visible the Untrue", the bitter truth of the "untrue" cannot be repudiated. Crane emphasizes the subtler emotional sense of "untrue" as "unfaith-f u l " rather than the more obviously rational one of "untrue" as " i n -accurate" or "wrong". In "Havana Rose", the advice of the doctor has a s a t i r i c a l undertone since the loss of freedom to "heed the negative" was an aspect of experience that Crane knew so well i n his obsessive-ness with pursuing a positive outlook. Of course he realized the negative, prisoning powers of this kind of Romanticism that closed off a part of l i f e from him, only forcing i t upon him in a subtly different way. "Eternity" presents the funda-mental inescapable equivocation—that eternity may exist, but only as a moment in the middle of hallucinatory framentation which may be the more d i f f i c u l t of the two experiences to face. Or are they indissol-uble experiences? In "The Bridge of Estador", the Emersonian advice against using rational powers may only be a b i t of romantic irony. The "Love/Of things irreconcilable" i s , after a l l , a twisting, tor-turing experience. In "Legend", the " I " may refuse expiation but the 174 r e f u s a l only opens the door f o r s u f f e r i n g , an undeniable p a r t of the way of a l l s a i n t s . In "A Name f o r A l l " , the achievement of uniform experience among a l l beings may be, as E l i z a b e t h A t k i n s suggests, only 26 a b i t of " n o s t a l g i a " and, hence, a c r u e l reminder of what has been l o s t . F i n a l l y , i n The Bridge, the yea-saying may be l e s s p l a u s i b l e that ever before. The f l i g h t to the beyond i s never completely secure. As Crane suggests i n "For the Marriage of Faustus and Helen", there are " e q u i v o c a t i o n s " , s i n c e even "The mind i s brushed by sparrow's wings". The v i s i o n may, a l s o , . . . f o r s a k e our eyes as a p p a r i t i o n a l as s a i l s that cross Some page of f i g u r e s to be f i l e d away; — T i l l e l e v a t o r s drop us from our day. . . ("To Brooklyn Bridge") Emerson b e l i e v e d that poetry depended on a d i a l e c t i c a l s h i f t between "form and l i b e r a t i o n , between balance and r e s t r a i n t " i f i t 27 were to achieve a f u l l expression of "the b a l l a s t of experience". Crane was conscious, however, of the poet's even greater need to face h i s darker s e l f . Thus, Emerson was more subject than Crane was to h i s own challenge of i n s i n c e r i t y : One weakness of h i s poems that he deplored was that they d i d not c o n t a i n s u f f i c i e n t e v i -dence of the ' p o l a r i t y ' of e x i s t e n c e , of how i t s i n e v i t a b l e law i s a c t i o n and r e a c t i o n , of how every statement contains the seed of i t s opposite. He s a i d : 'I am always i n s i n c e r e , as always knowing there are other moods.' 2° Only i n h i s l a t e works d i d Crane f i n a l l y submit to such i n s i n c e r -i t y . I t may have e x i s t e d throughout h i s works, but he always s t r o v e to master i t by j o i n i n g h i s acceptance of a world " l e s s fragmentary, 175 cool" with an equal acceptance of death: . . . And i t is always always, always the eternal rainbow And i t i s always the day, the farewell day unkind. ("The Visible the Untrue") Emerson's poetry was never allowed to become as emotive as this i s . For Cranehowever, the singular emotions of the poet were important since they were part of his imagination's very existence. Because his poetry involves constant self-examination, i t contributes to his biography just as his biography contributes to an understanding of the poetry. Crane's poetry t e l l s the story of a positive Whitmanian ego that suffered from Emersonian insecurity and dehumanization. While Crane recognized the power of his own imagination to make him the true prophet of the s p i r i t of America, the recognition of the possible insincerity of his claims forced him to rely even more on the private chimera which he had created, in order to escape the greater terrors of a fragmentation in vision. 176 References Chapter 6 ^As a re c o g n i z a b l e h i s t o r i c a l movement, American Transcendental-ism was p a r o c h i a l and s h o r t - l i v e d . A group of New England i n t e l l e c t -u a l s l i v i n g i n or about Boston and eastern Massachussetts organized themselves as a c o l l e c t i v e group of American r a d i c a l s i n t e r e s t e d i n r e l i g i o u s and s o c i a l reform and i n the quest f o r a Utopia of "per-f e c t democracy." (George H o c h f i e l d , " I n t r o d u c t i o n " to Selected W r i t i n g s of the American T r a n s c e n d e n t a l i s t s , Toronto: New American L i b r a r y of Canada, L t d . , 1966, x x v i i . ) The "heyday" of t h i s o r g a n i -z a t i o n l a s t e d "roughly the decade 1836-1846". The e f f e c t s i t had on the d i r e c t i o n of American thought were, however, f a r - r e a c h i n g ones. 2 The Complete Essays and Other W r i t i n g s of Ralph Waldo Emerson, ed. Brooks Atkinson (New York: The Modern L i b r a r y , c. 1950.) Subse-quent quotations from the Essays w i l l be made i n t e r n a l l y and w i l l r e f e r to t h i s e d i t i o n . 3 H o c h f i e l d , p. x i i i . 4 F.O. Matthiessen, American Renaissance: A r t and Expression i n the Age of Emerson and Whitman (New York: Oxford U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 1941), p. 66. ^ I b i d . , p. 6. ^ H o c h f i e l d , p. x. 7 Roy Harvey Pearce, The C o n t i n u i t y of American Poetry (New Jersey: P r i n c e t o n U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 1961), p. 4. 8 I b i d . , p. 91. 9 I b i d . , p. 5. " ^ F e i d e l s o n , pp. 45-6. U s e e Mary Baker Eddy, " F r u i t a g e " i n Science and Health w i t h Key to the S c r i p t u r e s (Boston: Trustees under the W i l l of Mary Baker G. Eddy, 1934), pp. 600-700. 12 P a u l C a r t e r , Waldo Frank (New York: Twayne P u b l i s h e r s , I nc., 1967), p. 172. 13 Gorham Munson, Waldo Frank: A Study (New York: Boni and L i v e -r i g h t , 1923), p. 60. 14 Waldo Frank, Salvos: An Informal Book about Books and P l a y s (New York: Boni and L i v e r i g h t , 1924), p. 278. 15 T... I b i d . 177 16 Poems of Ralph Waldo Emerson, selected by J . Donald Adams (New York: T.Y. Crowell Company, 1965), p. 62. Subsequent references to Emerson's poems w i l l be documented i n t e r n a l l y and w i l l r e f e r to t h i s e d i t i o n , unless otherwise indicated. 1 7The Journals and Miscellaneous Notebooks of Ralph Waldo Emerson, ed. A.W. Plumstead and Harrison Hayford (Cambridge, Massachussetts: The Belknap Press of Harvard Uni v e r s i t y Press, 1969), V o l . VII, 1838-1842, p. 60. Ibi d . 19 The Poems of Ralph Waldo Emerson, with Prefatory Notice by Walter Lewin (London: Walter Scott, 1886), p. 52. 20 Winters, "The Si g n i f i c a n c e of The Bridge, by Hart Crane, or What Are We to Think of Professor X?" i n In Defense of Reason, pp. 575-603. 2 1 I b i d . , p. 578. 22 Ibi d . 2 3 I b i d . , p. 579. 2 4 I b i d . , p. 580. 25 Pearce, p. 161. J ft E l i z a b e t h Atkins, "Man and Animals i n Recent Poetry," PMLA, 51 (March, 1936), 282. 27 Matthiessen, p. 63. 2 8 I b i d . 178 CHAPTER VII HART CRANE AND AMERICAN TRANSCENDENTALISM: WHITMAN There are i n things two elements fused though antagonistic. One is the bodily element, which has the quality of corruption and disease; the other is the element, the soul, which goes on, I think, i n unknown ways, enduring forever and ever.1 Any search for the origins of Crane's most f u l l y realized poetic vision leads to his s p i r i t u a l forefather, Whitman. Crane f i r s t became aware of this heritage i n 1923. At that time, he wrote to Munson that his i n i t i a l conception of The Bridge had brought him to the recognition that he was "directly connected with Whitman" (Letters, p. 128). With the discovery of his Whitmanian discipleship, Crane's poetry underwent a major change in conception. The most important individual change was the widening of his poetic scope beyond the vision of the private ego. Through Whitman's example, Crane realized the importance of the poet's role as representative man, reflecting the hopes and dreams of the American nation. The poet's sacred mission was to make each man realize his h i s t o r i c a l and mythic significance beyond the apparent privacy of his individual l i f e . Each man was, i f he would only realize i t , part of a chain of being that extended from origins to future aspirations. Crane's new attitude towards his poetic c i t i -zenship had to exceed private vision, since the Whitmanian poet could never exist i n vacuo, indulging in his own reveries and fantasies. Instead, he was forced to be more exoteric in his approach to s p i r i t u a l unity, since the integrity of his achievement affected more than the isolated self. Crane now lived in a world where every insight and 179 experience was connected to one large overyiew. Whitman helped him achieve this expansion of the ego and unity of purpose. I. Broom vs. Secession; Crane's Contemporaries and Whitman Crane had no d i f f i c u l t y in openly admitting his allegiance to Whitman when corresponding with his friends, Munson and Frank. They, after a l l , had strongly encouraged America's young writers to claim this heritage. At that time, such a point of view did not go un-challenged, however. While Leaves of Grass is now accepted as an American classic, the majority of Crane's contemporaries were decidedly unsympathetic toward i t . The popularity of Transcendentalist thought, and particularly of Whitman's poetry, was at a low point, except among a relatively small group of nationalist-minded artist s who were con-sidered a rather stodgy and parochial old guard. The anti-Whitmanism of America's young 1920's poets was based on their desire to identify themselves with a cosmopolitan-intellectual a r t i s t i c world. They scorned a l l attempts to render poetry a source of inspiration for the masses. The desire for a sophisticated, inter-national image was a reflection of America's attempt to come of age by rejecting her apparently uncivilized, pioneering background for a place in the contemporary world. The post-war climate brought dissatis-faction to many young artists who had abandoned their restricted backgrounds for a l i f e of diversified adventure and experience in Europe. In an attempt to avoid associating themselves with the puta-tively over-sentimentalized inspirational poetry of their predecessors, they turned to the experiments in European art and, above a l l , to the 180 works of Pound and E l i o t . These two poets had l e f t America in order to find an atmosphere which would be conducive to encouraging a new avant-garde or experimentation with the verbal arts. Since the period of the Gilded Age, American literature had become satisfied with i t s private emotional indulgence. L i t t l e of i t s poetry had any l i f e in i t , either in i t s intellectual content or in i t s language. Through their exile, Pound and Eliot attempted to restore American poetry to the realm of the arts. Part of this restoration was to be achieved through the rejection of a parochial and mystic-sentimental poetry for an intellectual one, grounded in a precisely defined aesthetic. The modern movement had, above a l l , encouraged man to be s e l f - c r i t i c a l . This virtue was sadly lacking in the world of American letters. Only by consciously rejecting their background and by turning to Europe's experimental work in the arts, which encouraged the recognition of poetry as a respectable discipline of a controlled and ordered sense of language, could American artists hope to survive. Crane's anti-Whitman friends—Matthew Josephson, Malcolm Cowley, and Allen Tate—were influenced by the efforts of Pound and E l i o t at creating a hard and analytical poetry. Tate was a strong admirer of Eliot's ironic and imagistic efforts which rejected a l l private emotional indulgence and naive optimism. The other poets, who followed the experiments in European art, and especially in French poetry, were influenced by Pound's efforts to nourish cosmopolitanism in America. 2 For Pound, Whitman was the "Uncouth American" whose work epito-mized the false emotionalism in their nation's poetry. Pound f e l t 181 that the "barbaric yawp" of Leaves of Grass was f u l l of the heavy-handed nationalism which had made his country's poetry a p u l p i t f or preaching a self-complacent philosophy: V i l l o n never forgets h i s f a s c i n a t i n g , r e v o l t i n g s e l f . I f , however, he sings the song of himself he i s , thank God, free from that h o r r i b l e a i r of r e c t i t u d e with which Whitman r e j o i c e s i n being Whitman. V i l l o n ' s song i s s e l f i s h through self-absorption; he does not, as Whitman, pretend to be conferring a p h i l a n t r o p i c [ s i c ] b e n e f i t on the race by recording h i s own self-complacency.3 He could not abide Whitman's raw, u n d i s c i p l i n e d work with i t s i n d u l -gence of the u n a r t i s t i c ego. In Lustra (1916), he made "A pact" with Whitman, whom he rather begrudgingly accepted as h i s forebear: I make a pact with you, Walt Whitman— I have detested you long enough. I have come to you as a grown c h i l d Who has had a pig-headed f a t h e r . 4 Such acceptance, however, was to be no more than t o l e r a t i o n . In order to associate themselves with the new poetry of Pound and E l i o t , Crane's young aesthetic-minded friends were obliged to take a stand against a Whitmanian-directed poetry. As self-conscious a r t i s t s , they could hardly a l l y themselves with a seemingly unstructured poetry that fostered a n t i - i n t e l l e c t u a l spontaneity, a c e l e b r a t i o n of the average, and the s u p e r i o r i t y of l i f e over a r t . The c o n f l i c t of i n t e r e s t between t h e i r stand and Frank's was made evident to Crane i n 1923 when a meeting of the w r i t e r s "who contributed to various vanguard reviews l i k e Broom and Secession" was c a l l e d i n order to discuss t h e i r "common problems and to consider combining forces." These goodwill e f f o r t s were arranged i n order to help l i t t l e magazines "work more e f f e c t i v e l y at publishing and fund-raising.""' 182 Crane was anxious for this meeting to work out well since he was sympathetic to both sides. From the very beginning, however, such a meeting could only bring disaster. The group from Broom was characteristically irreverent and iconoclastic. Josephson, a rather cynical and unsympathetic c r i t i c , "not knowing or considering Munson's feeling in the matter, had lately published i n Broom a rather disparaging review of Frank's latest book in the form of a rather harsh satire of that author." The more serious-minded Secessionist authors f e l t that they were being badly treated by these "immature" writers. The anti-Whitmanians, who never tired of "deriding [Frank's] Messianic ideas about sexual free-dom and the New Dawn"7 were hardly willing to seriously entertain the notion of joining forces with their Whitman-supporting opponents. Crane's position was the most impossible one of a l l . He "actually tried to keep on terms with both the Munson-Frank faction and that of Broom" in spite of his awareness of how inimical the two groups were. This situation was not a pleasant one, but would have been easier to bear i f i t had been s t r i c t l y based upon a personal choice of friends. It epitomized, however, a conflict of loyalties within Crane that he had defined i n the 1919 letter to Munson wherein he distinguished Josephson and Anderson as "opposite poles" and placed himself "some-where between them" (Letters, p. 27). This conflict was based on the clash between Crane's Transcendental-based s p i r i t and his links with his own century, "a classic, hard and glossy" (Letters, p. 27) period that had rejected Whitman as hopelessly naive and sentimental. Crane 183 was, nevertheless, dedicated to a poetic exploration of cosmic con-sciousness and to creating a work that not only showed the way to vision but also was an evocation of that way. He had, therefore, to acknowledge his Whitmanian heritage and to write from within i t . In a letter to Tate, written after he had com-pleted The Bridge, Crane outlined his position on Whitman to an un-sympathetic figure. Although he took a somewhat defensive stand here, he insisted on the complexity of Whitman's outlook. Other poets, i n their blind opposition to Whitman's visionary "mysticism", had over-looked a certain undercurrent i n his poetry which Crane had found: But since you and I hold such divergent prejudices regarding the value of the materials and events that W. responded to, and especially as you, like so many others, never seem to have read his Democratic Vistas and other of his statements sharply decrying the materialism, indus-trialism, etc., of which you name him the guilty and hysterical spokesman, there isn't much use in my tabu-lating the qualified, yet persistent reasons I have for my admiration of him, my allegiance to the positive and universal tendencies implicit in nearly a l l his best work. You've heard me roar at too many of his lines to doubt that I can spot his worst, I'm sure. (Letters, pp. 353-354) Because this allegiance was not without qualification, i t may appear a very tenuous and fic k l e profession of loyalty. The fact i s , however, that Crane had read Whitman carefully in order to locate his heritage and the roots of his enthusiasm for the Transcendentalist point of view. Thus, he had recognized a complexity in Whitman's work that others had denied. Although Crane rejected what he could not help but find ridiculous and tedious in Whitman's work, he also acknowledged him the major voice of American poetry. This response 184 was a judicious one, since i t strove to locate i t s enthusiasms cau-tiously, with the greatest amount of fairness to both sides of the question. II. Whitman: "The Mystic Evolution" The alternate t i t l e s of "true Emersonian man" or "Emerson realized' best summarize Whitman's role in the Transcendentalist tradition. Because of the unresolved confusion between the provinces of "Me" and "not-Me" which permeates a l l of his work, Emerson's ego was too dena-tured to achieve a synthetic vision which would integrate these "empi-r i c a l " and "mystical" natures. Whitman's ego, on the other hand, was almost too over-powering to f i l l this position. At times his " I " i s so obtrusive, idiosyncratic and conceited that i t almost ceases to function outside of i t s "empirical" role. Nevertheless, i t i s the force which unifies Leaves of Grass and gives i t a consistency which is the closest thing to a r t i s t i c form. In spite of i t s strong "empi-r i c a l " nature, this " I " f i l l s the symbolic function of representing, i f not every man, at least every American. For this reason, i t circum-vents the charges of provincialism, solipsism, or, at worst, the extreme of narcissism. At times, this escape becomes a very narrow one. The odor of Whitman's armpits 1 0 may come a l i t t l e too near, and i t i s then less than fascinating. Because of the commanding power of his " I " , Whitman's poetry can be as contradictorily "empirical-mystical" as he cares to make i t without the f i n a l contradiction tearing i t s whole structure apart. Furthermore, i f this " I " i s self-contradictory i n i t s simultaneous 185 roles of a "simple separate person" and "The Modern Man" ("One's-Self I Sing", p. 15), i t i s at least always there. It i s at least always Whitman. Whitman's assurance of this cosmic egotism allows him to reach as far as he likes outward, or as close as he likes inward. He can be a man of paradox by acting out his roles of "dialectician" or "organi-c i s t " at the same and different times: "Strange and hard that paradox true I give,/Objects gross and the unseen soul are one" ("A Song For Occupations, 5", p. 211). Whitman's definition of his di a l e c t i c a l position reveals his awareness of the distinction between "objects" and the "soul", at the same time as he construes the traditional hierarchy of material things as "gross" and the s p i r i t u a l as pure i n their "unseen" mystery. At the same time s t i l l , by rejecting this distinction for a unified oneness, he i s taking the symbolist's posi-tion of extreme organicism: Whitman, 'militantly hostile to reason,' abandons 'the habit of mind which views the material world as separable from ideas and speech.' His symbolistic point of view focuses on the act of perception, the seeing, rather than the seer or the thing seen, thereby eliminating the ^ distinction between subject and object, poet and reader. In the above passage, Waskow quotes from Feidelson to demonstrate that Whitman i s a true symbolist. And, undoubtedly, he i s right. At the same time, he can take selections from another c r i t i c , Richard Chase, to prove that Whitman i s a dialectical thinker who sees the world in dualistic terms. For Chase, "Despite the 'merging' and 'identifying' tendencies of the poet, despite the timeless, flowing universe he speaks of, he preserves. . . his modes of distinction and 'extrica-186 t i o n . ' " 1 2 Thus, Whitman's position fuses the "empirical" and "mystical" experiences because they are consolidated in the single but dual-minded persona of the " I " . His main achievement is discovered in his a b i l i t y to pull off the joke on the universe of squaring the c i r c l e , 13 or of achieving a "unified duality". In setting out to define himself, he knows he has also set out "to define America" ("To Foreign Lands", p. 17). In becoming Whitman, he knows what i t is "To be indeed a God"! ("A Song of Joys", p. 181). Since he i s both reputable and irreputable, prankster and serious mystic, tramp and saint, Whitman sets the c r i t i c s an impossible task in the latter's quest to order his poetry. The poet's erotic fanta-sies, for example, cannot be separated from religious vision, since they are part of an all-containing self who would embrace "the l i f e -14 force in a l l of nature". Adhesiveness may be a sublime and selfless desire for brotherhood with man, or i t may be a lusting after some desirable male. The issue of the true Whitman has been wi l f u l l y lost in the legends that began to develop immediately after the appearance of the f i r s t edition of Leaves of Grass i n 1855. The loss was inevit-able, however, in order to gain the Whitman myth—the image of the wise, clean, healthy, bearded wise-man, patriarch of America. When Bernice Slote says that "Whitman is not the j o l l y chauvinist, champion of America, the wild-eyed gusty busy formless citizen-poet""'""' in order to affirm the fact that he is a serious poet, she does no justice to his achievement. Whitman is a l l of these things, as well as father 187 of some of the worst r e l i g i o n s — " w o r s h i p of country", narcissism, materialism, p r o g r e s s i v i s m , — a t the same time as he i s "a r e l i g i o u s poet", "poet of a r t f u l c o n t r o l " , and "a mystic, a poet of cosmic „ 16 consciousness . I I I . "Cape Hatteras:" Whitman's Role i n The Bridge Because Whitman fathered Crane's v i s i o n of America, h i s presence i n The Bridge i s a pervasive one. "To Brooklyn Bridge" i s , undoubted-l y , Crane's f i r s t thorough poetic acknowledgement of h i s membership i n Whitman's family. I t reads as a d i r e c t rendering of a passage i n Democractic V i s t a s , The B i b l e of American mystic-aestheticism: Always and more and more, as I cross the East and North r i v e r s , the f e r r i e s , or with the p i l o t s i n t h e i r pilot-houses, or pass an hour i n Wall Street, or the gold exchange, I r e a l i z e ( i f we must admit such p a r t i a l i s m s , ) that not Nature alone i s great i n her f i e l d s of freedom and the open a i r , i n her storms, the shows of night and day, the mountains, f o r e s t s , seas--but i n the a r t i f i c i a l , the work of man too i s equally g r e a t — i n t h i s profusion of teeming humanity—in these i n g e n u i t i e s , s t r e e t s , goods, houses, s h i p s — t h e s e hurrying, f e v e r i s h , e l e c t r i c crowds of men, t h e i r complicated business genius, (not l e a s t among the geniuses,) and a l l t h i s mighty, many-threaded wealth and industry con-centrated here.17 Crane's poem includes some of the same geography i n an equally panora-18 mic v i s i o n . More s i g n i f i c a n t than t h i s shared v i s i o n of America's v i s t a s are the poets' mutual r e a l i z a t i o n that Nature i s "great" not only i n her own creations, but i n the " a r t i f i c i a l " ones that man creates as w e l l . For Crane, t h i s outlook was a reason f o r optimism, since i t provided a mandate f o r the twentieth century world of indus-trial-commercial progress to j o i n i n the pursuit f o r the true America. 188 Because a "great moral and religious c i v i l i z a t i o n " was necessary for the j u s t i f i c a t i o n of a "great material one" (Whitman, p. 387), both Whitman and Crane realized that America's achievement of " a l l l i f e ' s material comforts" would not, in i t s e l f , be enough, since "the soul of man w i l l not with such only. . . be f i n a l l y satisfied" (Whitman, p. 384). "Cape Hatteras" was Crane's most conscious effort to analyze his relation to Whitman. In Democratic Vistas, Whitman called on future visionary poets to follow his i n i t i a l steps into the new territory of a mystical-centered America. Thus, Crane asked Whitman whether a continuity s t i l l existed between the worlds that both knew: Walt, t e l l me, Walt Whitman, i f i n f i n i t y Be s t i l l the same as when you walked the beach near Paumanok. . . The Wright Brothers' experiments with aerodynamics and air travel were, for Crane, the obvious instances of man's attempt to enter a new age, while redefining a relationship with eternity. Since the a i r -plane was man's vehicle for ascending above the earth on mechanical wings, i t became not only his imitation of Nature's bird, but also an " a r t i f i c i a l " expression of his yearnings to transcend himself and his earthly l i f e . It was a trial-run at uniting the industrial and imagi-nary geniuses. This airplane, the symbol of man's attempt to close the gap between the mechanical and the mystical, creates in man a drunken, giddy feeling of power and of glory because of his achieved transcen-dence of the natural world: Thine eyes bicarbonated white by speed, 0 Skygak, see How from thy path above the levin's lance Thou sowest doom thou hast nor time nor chance 189 To reckon—as thy s t i l l y eyes partake What alcohol of space , . .! Man must learn, however, to cope with this new power, by allowing i t to shape him just as much as he has shaped i t . The genuine mastery of space must not be pursued for i t s own sake, but must be linked with the great Whitmanic dream for the fulfilment of mystic America. Whitman distrusts the pride of the man who seeks to stand totally on his own, above and away from the rest of mankind, since i t i s "demo-cracy's rule that men, the nation" must stand "on one broad, primary, universal, common platform" (Whitman, p. 396). Democracy is the search "not for grand material personalities only, but for immortal souls." There can be no hierarchy here: in fact, Whitman suggests that, i n the true democractic man, one finds that the achievement of pride comes through humility: The common ambition strains for elevations, to become some privileged exclusive. The master sees greatness and health in being part of the mass; nothing w i l l do as well as common ground. Would you have in yourself the divine, the vast, general law? Then merge yourself in i t . (Whitman, p. 397) Crane warns of the same disaster i n the face of pride. The suf-fering and failure of the war-time f l i g h t , the collapse "into mashed and shapeless debris", is caused by the loss of control of the ship: "Giddily spiralled/gauntlets, upturned, unlooping/ln guerrilla sleights, trapped i n combustion gyr-/lng . . . " Both physical and metaphysical fl i g h t demand an experienced and able p i l o t . The f l i e r s at "Cape Hatteras" forgot the risk involved (". . . see/How . . . /Thou sowest doom"), since their great power must be acknowledged with humility: 190 . . . Remember, Falcon-Ace, Thou hast there in thy wrist a Sanskrit charge To conjugate infinity's dim marge— Anew . . . I Since Whitman has "held the heights more sure" than anyone, Crane calls on him to be his guide to the achievement of his f l i g h t . The "pact . . ./Of li v i n g brotherhood" formed between the two poets is not like the one Pound grudgingly made with Whitman. This pact allows Crane to c a l l his predecessor by his f i r s t name because of the i n t i -macy of their relationship. Because Crane recognized and shared Whitman's doubts, he could speak to Whitman of "thine other hand." In Democratic Vistas, Whitman suggested the i n f i n i t e p o s s i b i l i t i e s of America's future. He also, however, recognized the atmosphere of hypocrisy and faithlessness in his country, which opposed the fulfilment of these dreams. The mere fact that whitman spoke of "vistas" suggested that the vision he held was both expansive and distant, f u l f i l l i n g and future-oriented. America's destiny was to "justify God", and the greatness of the "American-born populace, the peaceablest and most good-natured race in the world, and the most personally independent and intelligent" (Whitman, p. 393). There were, however, great odds to be overcome. Although there was "a power" (Whitman, p. 402) ready to crush these odds, e v i l was s t i l l a test for man. Man in America was, for Whitman, s t i l l a vulgar creature, caught up in "money-making" while ignoring the depths of the soul: Never was there, perhaps, more hollowness at heart than at present, and here in the United States. Genuine belief seems to have l e f t us. (Whitman, p. 385) 191 Thus even f o r the most o p t i m i s t i c of Transcendentalism's prophets, e v i l i s not without i t s r e a l i t y . Whitman projects a plan that w i l l accomplish a r e a l "United States". At the same time, he r e a l i z e s the need to deal with the forces that would r e s i s t the "onward" motion by facing them and incorporating them into h i s work. Crane follows t h i s thematic pattern i n "The Tunnel", a Poesque nightmare which i s part of a Whitmanian p l a n — t o acknowledge e v i l before o u t s t r i p p i n g i t . IV. Crane and Whitman's Poetry In Leaves of Grass, Crane discovered a book of songs dedicated to celebrating the theme that he held so dear, the " i d e n t i f i c a t i o n of yourself with a l l of l i f e " (Letters, p. 140): Of L i f e immense i n passion, pulse and power, Cheerful, f o r f r e e s t action form'd under the laws d i v i n e , The Modern Man I sing. ("One's Self I Sing", p. 15) Whitman knew of no e s s e n t i a l d i s t i n c t i o n between singing of the s e l f and singing of the cosmos. If he sought out an epic theme l i k e war, he r e a l i z e d i t only i n cosmic terms ("the f i e l d the world", the oppo-nents " l i f e and death") which eventually return to the s e l f : "I above a l l promote brave s o l d i e r s " ("As I ponder'd i n Silence", p. 16) This ego becomes tedious at those i n t e r v a l s when i t seeks to contain aspects of experience that do not happily fuse with i t . Nevertheless i t saves i t s e l f from the fear of i l l u s i o n and the sense of fragmentation found i n The Bridge at those moments when Crane attempts to project an i d e a l beyond his own ego, while simultaneously r e a l i z i n g that the whole plan may be nothing but an i l l u s i o n , whitman 192 avoided these epical pretensions since he did not believe i n their realization during his lifetime and since he already had the f u l l Transcendentalist ego to explore: . . . we have to say there can be no complete or epical presentation of democracy in the aggregate, or anything like i t , at this day, because i t s doctrines w i l l only be effectually incarnated in any one branch, when in a l l , their s p i r i t i s at the root and centre. Far, far, indeed, stretch, in distance, our Vistas! How much is s t i l l to be disentangled, freed! How long i t takes to make this American world see that i t i s , in i t s e l f , the f i n a l authority and reliance! (Whitman, p. 405) The disentangling or freeing of his own ego in his poems was part of the discovery of this s p i r i t . Thus his optimism about man's victory over death ("methinks certain") stemmed from his own strength of being. "I project the history of the future", he wrote in "To a Historian", a poem in which he celebrates his role as "Chanter of Personality". Whitman asserts a personalist outlook, which philoso-phizes that "man and God are One—we might say one Personality, and 19 that man's personality is immortal in the personality of God". The continuity between self and non-self erased a l l distinctions and permitted him to write of both his "mystic" and "empirical" selves i n the scope of f u l l y harmonized contradictions. Throughout "Song of Myself", Whitman constantly counterpoints supreme egotism with innocent altruism: In a l l people I see myself, none more and not one a barley-corn less, And the good or bad I say of myself I say of them. One world is aware and by far the largest to me, and that i s myself, (p. 57) 193 Do I contradict myself? Very w e l l then I contradict myself, (I am large, I contain multitudes.) (p. 95) The basis of t h i s f r ee unity of contradiction i s found i n Whitman's b e l i e f i n the whole man, i n whom the desires of both body and soul dwell i n harmony: Clear and sweet i s my soul, and c l e a r and sweet i s a l l that i s not my soul. Lacks one lacks both, and the unseen i s proved by the seen, T i l l that becomes unseen and receives proof i n i t s turn. (p. 41) Crane's outlook depends strongly on Whitman's pantheist v i s i o n f o r i t s i n t e g r i t y of prophecy. "Hankering, gross, m y s t i c a l , nude" (p. 56) Whitman does not turn h i s back on the " e m p i r i c a l " world but centres h i s v i s i o n i n i t " I accept R e a l i t y and dare not question i t , Materialism f i r s t and l a s t imbuing. (p. 60) His pantheism i s not, then, devoid of the influence of the external world rendered i n t e r n a l . He sees nature as a res signatura, "a u n i -form hieroglyph" ("Song of Myself", p. 43) that must be read: Although h i s pantheism i s e s s e n t i a l l y m y s t i c a l , i t i s unlike e i t h e r the O r i e n t a l or Carlylean m y s t i c a l pantheism, both of which regard the o b j e c t i v e world as un-real and chimerical.20 The a b i l i t y of the bridge to "condense e t e r n i t y " and of the airplane to "conjugate i n f i n i t y " r e s t s on Crane's b e l i e f i n the Whitmanian vers i o n of pantheism. Because of Whitman's b e l i e f i n the body as equal to the soul, he accepts the seer's advice to "glean eidolons", images which r e f l e c t 194 the s p i r i t or soul of each object. Man has the power to " r e a l l y b u i l d eidolons", those s p i r i t u a l e ffluxes of the material world that are immutable. Since America i s a commercial and material world r e l e a s i n g eidolons, the v i s i b l e i s part of an ev e r l a s t i n g destiny. For Crane, the bridge i n the New York harbour was the supreme eidolon, a l i n k between the shores of the worlds of the s p i r i t and the f l e s h , whose arcs and curves express Whitman's "orbic tendencies to shape and shape and shape,/The mighty earth-eidolon" ("Eidolons", p. 19). Whitman c a l l e d the l i f e - p r i n c i p l e not only "thou centre" but "thou orb of many orbs", since roundness was h i s image of completeness, the eidolon "the rounding of the c i r c l e " . The c y c l i c a l nature of l i f e that "goes onward and outward" ("Song of Myself", p. 44) o r i g i n a t e s i n his b e l i e f i n the cycle of e t e r n a l recurrence: Wider and wider they spread, expanding, always expanding, Outward and outward and forever outward. ("Song of Myself", p. 45) Thus Crane's bridge i s "the arching path upward" ("Atlantis") since he, l i k e Whitman, would create a poem constructed of "arching strands of song". Both poets b u i l d t h e i r v i s i o n s i n the same w a y — o r i g i n a t i n g i n t h e i r own egos and reaching out towards cosmic heights. They take within themselves the arcs and strands of events and elements, both natural and a r t i f i c i a l , to b u i l d of them one perfect c i r c l e , "one arc synoptic of a l l tides below" ("A t l a n t i s " ) . Because Crane's outlook at times lacked such assurance, i t remained, even to h i s l a s t poem, "a broken arc" ("A P o s t s c r i p t " ) of unrealized wholeness. The Whitmanian i n s p i r a t i o n , however, aimed toward completeness of the c i r c l e . 195 "Voyages" contains other elements that are essentially Whitman-ian, especially the image of the sea as the "mystical" realm as oppo-sed to the firm material reality of the land: The sky o'erarches here, we feel the undulating deck beneath our feet, We feel the long pulsation, ebb and flow of endless motion, The tones of unseen mystery, the vague and vast suggestions of the briny world, the liquid-flowing syllables, The perfume, the faint creaking of the cordage, the melan- choly rhythm, The boundless vista and the horizon far and dim are a l l here. ("In Cabin'd Ships At Sea", p. 16) In Crane, the "cordage" is in the bodies of the children. The "bound-less vista" i s that of "timeless floods, unfettered leewardings". The evocative "tones" and "suggestions" of Whitman's sea with i t s " l i q u i d -flowing syllables" speak once more in Crane's sea, with i t s "silver snowy sentences." The "melancholy rhythm" is caught in the "adagios of islands" while the " I " sees the "earthly shore" as the safe limits rejected for the vanquishing of the ego i n the lovers' acceptance of immersion in the "rimless floods". 21 Crane's "mystical eroticism" in "Voyages" was the most complete balance of his inner and outer selves that he was ever to achieve. The poem grew out of a love relationship that gave the poet a sense of contact with the i n f i n i t e . As a true Whitmanian Transcendentalist, Crane had to feel such experience in his own "empirical" nature before his "mystical" self could realize i t f u l l y i n the realm of art. The Whitmanian realization of the "unseen mystery" and the desire to face a l l odds, ("To confront night, storms, hunger, ridicule, accidents, rebuffs", "Me Imperturbe", p. 23) gives "Voyages" a great inner strength. 196 Crane's l y r i c a l voice can say to h i s sea what Whitman said to h i s : "I am i n t e g r a l with you, I too am of one phase and of a l l phases" ("Song of Myself", p. 59). Like h i s s p i r i t u a l father, he admits that " I believe i n the f l e s h and the appetites" ("Song of Myself", p. 61). Whitman was the one who communicated to Crane "the mystic d e l i r i a , the madness amorous, the u t t e r abandonment" ("From Pent-Up Aching Rivers", p. 98) of the sexual act. Since the body i s the s o u l , c o i t i o n i s the "act d i v i n e " . Crane's "Voyages I I I " sings the sacredness of the f l e s h and the act of love as the " i n f i n i t e consanguinity" which the sea, both the source of l i f e and the mother of a l l , "bears" f o r man: And so, admitted through black swollen gates That must a r r e s t a l l distance o t h e r w i s e , — Past w h i r l i n g p i l l a r s and l i t h e pediments, Li g h t w r e s t l i n g there incessantly with l i g h t , Star k i s s i n g s t a r through wave on wave in t o Your body rocking! whitman's "song of procreation" also i n t e r p r e t s the source of sexual desire as a cosmic force imaged i n the flow of water, t h i s time i n "pent-up aching r i v e r s " . Whitman sees woman as "the gates of the body . . . the gates of the s o u l " ("I Sing the Body E l e c t r i c " , p. 102). Crane's "gates" are d e f i n i t e suggestions of the way the p h a l l i c power obtains f u l f i l m e n t ( " p i l l a r s " , "pediments") although the suggestion may have overtones of the homosexual act ("black swollen gates"). Because Whitman saw love as "the base of a l l metaphysics", h i s most memorable c o n t r i b u t i o n to l i f e was that of one "Who was not proud of hi s songs, but of the measureless ocean of love w i t h i n him" ("Readers Ages Hence", p. 125). This love accepts "em p i r i c a l " r e a l i t y ("Bind us 197 in time": Crane, and "I accept time absolutely": Whitman, "Song of Myself", p. 60) in order to transmute i t into an eternal state, "Whose accent no farewell w i l l know." But for Crane suffering i s part of this achievement ("as I/Must f i r s t be lost in f a t a l tides to t e l l " ) since Whitman showed him that only dying into love's hands w i l l effect a resurrection. Whitman projects an image of the Christ-like poet shedding his blood for man: Stain every page, stain every song I sing, every word I say, bloody drops, Let them know your scarlet heart, and let them glisten, Saturate them with yourself a l l ashamed and wet. ("Trickle Drops", p. 128) Crane expresses this same interpretation of his poetic role through an image of the immolation of the flesh in the sexual act. This immo-lation reflects i t s alternative, the sacredness and healing power of the flesh in love, as a cleansing unifying force: While ribboned water lanes I wind Are laved and scattered with no stroke Wide from your side, whereto this hour The sea l i f t s , also, reliquary hands. The power i s reminiscent of that in "Legend", the cauterizing force that brings about healing following pain: It i s to be learned— This cleaving and this burning, But only by the one who Spends out himself again. Of course the word "spends" suggests not only the rejection of miserly hoarding but the feeling of being sexually spent after the moment of orgasm. In "Voyages", death is not annihilation but "transmemberment". Of course, in Whitman, Crane found the acceptance of a l l of love, 198 including love between man and man. F u l l acceptance of his homo-sexuality was possible for Crane—but only at particular times. His aff a i r with Peggy Baird during the f i n a l year of his l i f e was his only known heterosexual relationship. It was Crane's desperate attempt to find a way out of the degenerate, fragmented state of his l i f e during his last years, a period which sustained very few creative moments. While he was s t i l l f u l l of the strength of hope and promise, he could speak of his homosexual affairs with an openness sometimes akin to bravado. In general, however, they were not sordid episodes, as far as he was concerned. He not only accepted these experiences as part of himself but made them part of his art. There i s a difference in the treatment of the sexual motif in both poets, however. Whitman feels the real poems are not only the acts of love but the actual penises, the "man-roots" that "plant so lovingly now" ("A Woman Waits for Me", p. 108) the seed of future generations. The real poems (what we c a l l poems being merely pictures), The poems of the privacy of the night, and of men like me, This poem drooping shy and unseen that I always carry, and that a l l men carry, (Know once for a l l , avow'd on purpose, wherever are men lik e me, are our lusty lurking masculine poems,) Love-thoughts, love-juice, love-odor, love-yielding, love-climbers, and the climbing sap, Arms and hands of love, lips of love, phallic thumb of love, breasts of love, bellies press'd and glued together with love, Earth of chaste love, l i f e that is only l i f e after love, The body of my love, the body of the woman I love, the body of the man, the body of the earth. ("Spontaneous me", p. 109) Crane, on the other hand, believed in drawing a line of distinction 199 between his a r t i s t i c l i f e and h i s personal sexual adventures. How-ever, h i s l e t t e r s and poetry indicate the presence of a c r e a t i v e strength that stems from the p r o v i d e n t i a l influences of b l i s s f u l and f u l f i l l e d sexual encounters. His love a f f a i r with Opffer was an experience of intense joy that he could compare with the r e l i g i o u s -mystical r e a l i z a t i o n of God's presence i n the Incarnation: I have wanted to write you more than once, but i t w i l l take many l e t t e r s to l e t you know what I mean (for myself, at least) when I say that I have seen the Word made Flesh. I mean nothing l e s s , and I know now that here i s such a thing as i n d e s t r u c t i b i l i t y . (Letters, p. 181) Crane was, nonetheless, f u l l y aware of how the other side of t h i s l i f e could drag him down: When I see you ask me to t e l l you more about him for he i s worth more and better words, I assure you. 0 yes, I s h a l l see him again soon. The climax w i l l be a l l too e a s i l y reached, — B u t my gratitude i s e n d u r i n g — i f only f o r that once, at l e a s t , something b e a u t i f u l approached me and as though i t were the most natural thing i n the world, and enclosed me i n h i s arm and pulled me to him without my s l i g h t e s t b i d . And we who create must endure—must hold to s p i r i t not by the mind, the i n t e l l e c t alone. These have no mystic p o s s i b i l i t i e s . 0 f l e s h damned to hate and scorn. I have f e l t my cheek pressed on the desert these days and months too much. (Letters, p. 127) Consequently, the acceptance of h i s r o l e of homosexual i s not without i t s s u f f e r i n g s and i t s i s o l a t i o n . Evidence of the dark side of t h i s experience i s found not only i n "Voyages" and "Legend" or i n the a n n i h i l a t i o n of "Garden Abstract" but i n "Possessions" where the f l e s h encumbers the s p i r i t and destroys c r e a t i v i t y before the achieve-ment of "pure possession". This s u f f e r i n g i s ind i c a t e d i n terms suggestive of the pain endured by the passive homosexual—pain both phy s i c a l and metaphysical: 200 I, t u r n i n g , t u r n i n g on smoked f o r k i n g s p i r e s , The c i t y ' s s t u b b o r n l i v e s , d e s i r e s . T o s s e d on t h e s e h o r n s , who b l e e d i n g d i e s , L a c k s a l l b u t p i t e o u s a d m i s s i o n s , t o be s p l i t Upon t h e page whose b l i n d sum f i n a l l y b u r n s R e c o r d o f r a g e and p a r t i a l a p p e t i e s . I n " T h e V i s i b l e t h e U n t r u e " , a poem d e d i c a t e d t o E m i l e O p f f e r , C r a n e s e e s h i m s e l f as t h e v i c t i m a g a i n , s i n c e t h e p a r t i n g f r o m h i s l o v e r f o r c e s h i m " t o e x t i n g u i s h what I have o f f a i t h " . " R e p l y " may be q u i t e s i m p l y a s t a t e m e n t o f C r a n e ' s t o t h i s same l o v e r , h a v i n g b e e n c a u g h t w i t h a n o t h e r ( " i n my momen t ' s shame") and condemned f o r h i s u n f a i t h -f u l n e s s . The s p e a k e r sends t h e " b r o t h e r " away t o e n j o y t h e " b l i s s " o f s u c c e s s f u l l y sham ing h i m . I n " I s l a n d Q u a r r y " , t h e c h o i c e o f t h e l e f t ( i . e . , t h e s i n i s t e r ) p a t h i s e v i d e n t l y t h e c h o i c e o f b a r r e n h o m o s e x u a -l i t y . I t i s p r e s e n t e d a s a n a d m i r a b l e d e c i s i o n s i n c e t h e one who t a k e s i t a v o i d s t h e p a t h o f l u s t f o r woman ( i . e . , " t h e g o a t p a t h " ) and o f t h e s o f t n e s s o f " t e a r s and s l e e p " f o r t h e h a r d , m a t u r e s t o i c i s m o f s e l f - k n o w l e d g e on a b a r r e n p a t h . N e v e r t h e l e s s , i t i s n o t t h e e a s y way t o f u l f i l m e n t : T h i s [ h o m o ] s e x u a l s y m b o l i s m and t h e n e e d t o r e s o l v e l i f e ' s c o n t r a d i c t i o n s we h a v e s e e n b e f o r e i n C r a n e ' s p o e t r y : b u t g e n e r a l l y i t has b e e n t h e m a t e r n a l and c o n s u m i n g s e a i n w h i c h he h a s s o u g h t r e f u g e f r o m e m o t i o n a l f u r y . T h i s f i r m , m a t u r e r e s o l u t i o n ( o r a t l e a s t t h e d e s i r e f o r i t ) i s some-t h i n g new. T h e r e i s h e r e t h e u n f a m i l i a r s t r e n g t h o f a man d e t e r m i n e d t o b e t o u g h e n e d b y e x p e r i e n c e and n o t d e f e a t e d b y i t . 2 2 The o b s c u r i t y o f C r a n e ' s l o v e p o e t r y s u g g e s t s t h a t h e d i d n o t f e e l f u l l y c o m f o r t a b l e i n t h e s e l f - r e v e a l i n g r o l e t h a t Whi tman a c c e p -t e d so c o m p l e t e l y . W h i t m a n ' s s t a n d i s even more s e l f - e x p o s i n g t h a n t h a t o f a c o n f e s s i o n a l p o e t s i n c e he does n o t f e e l t h e n e e d f o r s e c r e -201 tiveness or apologies to begin with. Not only was Crane more reticent than his forebear but he remained also more deeply interested i n objectifying or projecting his private l i f e into a symbolic world of art. Thus, while he wrote to Frank of his happiness found with Opffer, he also saw that the private experience was being "transformed" into a symbolic one expressed in terms of his a r t i s t i c visions: And I have been able to give freedom and l i f e which was acknowledged in the ecstacy of walking hand in hand across the most beautiful bridge of the world, the cables enclosing us and pulling us upward in such a dance as I have never walked and never can walk with another. (Letters, p. 181) Because of the lack of f u l l and sustained belief in himself, Crane could not f u l l y accept his own homosexuality. Lacking Whitman's ordered sense of self-arrangement, he could not accept that the " I " was individual and self-contained in i t s contradictions. Thus he could not believe in the absoluteness of a Whitman-like ego but pur-sued a symbolic outlook that would go beyond the self, "to view the subjective and objective worlds as functions of each other by regard-ing both as functions of the forms of speech in which they are ren-dered." 2 3 Crane's greatest debt to Whitman originates most certainly in his response to the great lyr i c s of Leaves of Grass, "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry" and "Passage to India", as well as the magnificent Sea-Drift poems. These works contain the heart of Crane symbolism, as well as the symbols themselves—sea, passage, Manhattan, crossing and spanning, circles, sea gulls, wires, and cables, the past as mythical root, 202 railroads and p l a i n s — a l l of which work toward the establishment of a "mystical" unity. In "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry", the act of voyaging back and forth "from shore to shore" is the central motion in a poem vi r t u a l l y obsessed with crossings of numerous sorts and of numerous orders. Whitman's main concern here i s the same as Crane's in the opening of The Bridge, namely to show the sure flow of time into eternity, and the complete positivity of the Future, the millennium when a l l the universe w i l l be one. Examples of the separate elements that w i l l be united are the "I " and "not-I", the "me" and "them", the past and future, the self and the current of l i f e , the individual of the present and mankind of the future. But the way Whitman handles these varied themes i s to speak of them a l l at once, thus suggesting the intricate nature of their interrelationship. Crane's letter to Kahn, which outlines his labours in creating The Bridge, indicates that he was bent on re-establishing Whitman's approach in the twentieth century: Thousands of strands have to be searched for, sorted and interwoven. In a sense I have to do a great deal of pioneering myself. (Letters, p. 305) The approach was more than a technical feature in both poets, however; i t was aimed at f u l f i l l i n g a definite goal which Crane outlined in terms derived directly from his spiritual forebear: There are so many interlocking elements and symbols at work throughout The Bridge that i t is next to impossible to describe i t without resorting to the actual metaphors of the poem. Roughly, however, i t is based on the conquest of space and knowledge. The theme of 'Cathay' (its riches, etc.) ultimately i s transmuted into a symbol of conscious-ness, knowledge, spiritual unity. (Letters, p. 241) 203 Both Crane's and Whitman's "walk in the street and the passage over the river" ("Crossing Brooklyn Ferry", p. 159) are vision of "condense eternity". In the former's statement, "the t r a f f i c lights" are "beading thy [i.e., the bridge's] path"; in the latter's "the glories are "strung like beads on my smallest sights". Whitman's ferry "passage over the river" i s Crane's bridge "vaulting the sea". Both poets' visions are centered i n Manhatten; for both "time nor place—distance avails not" in the face of the sea's tides "pouring-in" and " f a l l i n g back". Whitman's sea-gulls are "high in the air floating with motion-less wings" in "slow-wheeling circles" while Crane's gulls are also masters of the heavens and of harmonic orders imaged by the "rings" and "curves": The seagull's wings shall dip and pivot him, Shedding white rings of tumult, building high Over the chained bay waters L i b e r t y — The with inviolate curve, forsake our eyes As apparitional as sails that cross Some page of figures to be f i l e d away. Whitman's sighting of the "fires from the foundry" also finds i t s counterpart in Crane's vision of the moon as "A rip-tooth of the sky's acetylene". Both poets also make attempts at fusing the "clefts of sheets" caused by the technological world. For Crane, as for Whitman, the quest for a "New World" is meta-phorically rendered as a search for the north-west passage, the way to inf i n i t e riches. Whitman's poem, "Passage to India", presented Crane with the metaphor for the achievement of man's sp i r i t u a l quest. Like "India", "Cathay" was for Crane the discovery of both a new s p i r i t and 204 "the i n f i n i t e greatness of the past" ("Passage to India", .p. 380). Columbus, in "Ave Maria", acts out the same role as in Whitman's poem, since the discovery of America was, for both poets, the true comple-tion of the voyager's mission: (Ah Genoese thy dream! thy dream! Centuries after thou are la i d in thy grave, The shore thou foundest verifies thy: dream.) ("Passage to India", p. 382) . . . Then faith,, not fear Nigh surged me witless . . . Hearing the surf near— I, wonder-breathing, kept the watch,—saw The f i r s t palm chevron the f i r s t lighted h i l l . ("Ave Maria") America, as "Cathay", the true "Passage to India", i s the v e r i f i e r of the dream. "This turning rondure whole" is Columbus' realization of both his speculation and his dream. His speculation, i.e., that the world was round, once made him "exile" but, "now proved", renders him "absolute". This discovery of roundness is also a reflection, how-ever, on the completeness of the voyage, the discovery of the image of i n f i n i t y in the material world. The i n f i n i t e series of the waves, the inconstant motion "turning rondure" i s , at this point, "thou rondure of the world at last accomplished" ("Passage to India", p. 382). Both poems move on to a Te Deum, a prayer .in praise of God and his almighty powers, because man's realization of i n f i n i t y in his midst could not but merit such praises. The passage of the soul to "primal thought" takes the poets to the same theistic realization: 0 Thou transcendent Nameless, the fibre and the breath ("Passage to India", p. 386) 205 0 Thou who sleepest on Thyself, apart Like ocean athwart lanes of death and birth ("Ave Maria") Besides humility, this soul also demands of them the f u l l e s t expansion of vision. Since the world responds totally to this God as a servant to a master, man i s expected to risk everything i n pursuing the "pen-dant seething wheat of knowledge" that i s "beyond" in Crane and "far-ther, farther, farther"("Passage to India", p. 388) in Whitman. Even when alone and weary, Whitman's old Columbus continues to rest his faith in God: My terminus near, The clouds already closing in upon me, The voyage balk'd, the course disputed, lost, 1 yield my ships to Thee. ("Prayer of Columbus", p. 390) Crane does not show his readers the "batter'd, wreck'd old man," but his Columbus, too, resorts to his faith in a terrifyingly powerful God to be merciful towards him. In the Sea-Drift poems, Whitman finds himself alone on the beach. Although he knows that his separateness is not an eternal condition since "a vast similitude interlocks a l l " ("On the Beach at Night Alone", p. 252), he s t i l l faces the possible unreality of his own ego, up u n t i l this point the hub of his universe. The sea, for Whitman, acted as the symbol of man's dying and his sp i r i t u a l rebirth. These Sea-Drift poems share a feeling with Crane's greatest moments, especially in "Voyages", since they were not without a tone of sadness and i s o l a -tion, not without the fascination with the "delicious word death". Whitman's position is a humble, solitary one, f u l l of the recognition 206 of the interrelationship between death and rebirth, between loss and fulfilment: Never more the cries of unsatisfied love be absent from me, Never again leave me to the peaceful child I was before what there i n the night, By the sea under the yellow and sagging moon, The messenger there arous'd, the f i r e , the sweet h e l l within, The unknown want, the destiny of me. ("Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking", p. 245) The uncertainty amidst a l l his arrogance i s unfolded i n his poem, "As I Ebb'd With the Ocean of Life". Here Whitman realizes that he i s the d r i f t , caught in a motion larger than himself. There are thus "the shores I know" and "the shores I know not" (p. 246), the former the physical universe, the latter the mystical one. Whitman realizes that he has only known his personal physical world, not the impersonal "impalpable breezes". Such awareness leads him to a humbling moment of self-reckoning, wherein he faces his own confusion and ignorance: 0 baffled, balk'd, bent to the very earth, Oppress'd with myself that I have dared to open my mouth, Aware now that amid a l l that blab whose echoes recoil upon me I have not at once had the least idea who or what I am, But that before a l l my arrogant poems the real Me stands yet untouch'd, untold, altogether unreach'd, Withdrawn far, mocking me with mock-congratulatory signs and bows, With peals of distant ironical laughter at every word I have written, Pointing in silence to these songs, and then to the sand beneath. 1 perceive I have not really understood anything, not a single object, and that no man ever can, Nature here in sight of the sea taking advantage of me to dart upon me and sting me, Because I have dared to open my mouth to sing at a l l . ("As I Ebb'd With the Ocean of Li f e " , pp. 246-247) This passage challenges the whole base of Whitmanian Transcendentalism since i t s daring egotistical outlook, which has been the f u l l source 207 of i t s energy i s , after a l l , only grounded in embarrassing and empty self-love. The " I " is now "oppressed" by i t s courageous act of self -assertion rather than nourished by i t . The " I " that has created a whole universe from the belief i n i t s own i n f i n i t e powers must face the possibility that a l l i t has generated is mere "blab" and that, in spite of a l l the forcefulness of apparent self-belief, "I have not at once had the least idea who or what I am." His outlook has been based upon self-delusion, since the true, "the real Me", remains both "un-reach'd" and unreachable. "No man ever can", as i t seems, grasp anything i n a knowing way, let alone his own nature which has "with-drawn far". Thus, in this rare passage in Whitman, man is suddenly aware of his own isolation, even from himself. He plays the fool, victimized by the "mock-congratulatory signs and bows" and the "dis-tant ironical laughter" of the real self. Even nature, always a true companion and passive reflection of man i n a l l his pride, i s an anta-gonistic force, "taking advantage of me to dart upon me and sting me". Crane had always been aware of the f a t a l i s t i c outlook which saw the world " a l l dark and desolate" ("Tears", p. 248) and the self as a "speck, a point on the world's floating vast" ("To the Man-Of-War Bird", p. 249). For this reason, Whitman's realization in Sea-Drift of man's smallness and of his limitations as one of several creatures created and determined by the natural order, would have been particu-l a r l y meaningful to him. Whitman's feeling that man was caught up in something larger than himself, which reflected his own meagreness, was but a temporary setback for a poet of the "supreme I". For Crane, 208 however, i t was a recognition that could never be completely effaced from his view of the cosmic order. The recognition that "the sobbing dirge of Nature" was as much for man as for the things of this world was certainly disillusioning to both poets: We, capricious, brought hither we know not whence, spread out before you, You up there walking or s i t t i n g , Whoever you are, we too l i e i n d r i f t s at your feet. ("As I Ebb'd With the Ocean of Lif e " , p. 248) For both, the sea was also the image of this great chaos of mystery and terror, the eternally possible and impossible, the way of death and rebirth, the great "unloosen'd Ocean" ("Tears", p. 249). Crane would have liked to have joined Whitman in returning to the belief that there was "something . . . more immortal even than the stars" ("On the Beach at Night", p. 251); indeed, at times, he succeeded i n doing so. whitman's confrontation with his own self-alienation would have been a realization for Crane, as i t was for Melville, of a d i v i -sion between inner and outer nature that was an ever-present fact. For Whitman, however, the mere confrontation with his alien self was enough to render i t assimilable, through an attitude which smacks of personal repatriation. Thus he could return to his reassurance of a moving link, a "similitude" of "change onward from ours to that of beings who walk other spheres" ("The World Below the Brine", p. 252). In spite of uncertainty, the motion remains sea-ward, with man as both ship and cargo: But 0 the ship, the immortal ship! 0 ship aboard the ship! Ship of the body, ship of the soul, voyaging, voyaging, voyaging. ("Aboard at a Ship's Helm", p. 250) 209 For Crane, l i f e was from the very beginning "a cameo the waves claim again". The potentiality of the sea's cruelty thus affects his interpretation of the land as well. Although he wanted to recognize the gods and goddesses in the American s o i l , especially the mother of the New World, he was unsure of finding them without the aid of the " l i e " . The inconstancy of Crane's symbology i s , therefore, a key to the lack of consistency i n his art. Whitman's spontaneity i s not always authentic, but i t rarely reaches the extremes of sentimentalism of hysteria found i n Crane. Nor does he try to mask his confusion with art and cunning symbolism as does his disciple. The attempt to find "syllables of f a i t h " i n a world "bright with myth" led Crane to write some of his great poetry, as in the following passage from "The Dance". This passage i s a successful one since i t i s dramatically elevated in tone and rhetoric in order to equal the sublimity of Maquokeeta's apotheosis: I heard the hush of lava wrestling your arms, And stray teeth foam about the raven throat; Flame cataracts of heaven in seething swarms Fed down your anklets to the sunset's moat. 0, lik e the lizard in the furious noon, That drops his legs and colors i n the sun, j^And laughs, pure serpent, Time i t s e l f , and moon Of his own fate, I saw thy change begun! In "The River", Crane realizes the dramatic flow of events in a truly Whitmanian passage. The rhythms of the poetry are true to the rhythm of events they describe: Down, down—born, pioneers in time's despite, Grimed tributaries to an ancient flow — They win no frontier by their wayward plight, But d r i f t i n st i l l n e s s , as from Jordan's brow. 210 ""You w i l l not hear i t as the sea; even stone Is not more hushed by gravity . . .But slow, As loth to take more t r i b u t e — s l i d i n g prone Like one whose eyes were buried long ago The River, spreading, flows—and spends your dream. However, Crane's shaky rendition of Whitmanism also led him to write some of his worst poetry. He could mythicize the nation, the pioneers, the land, but i t s mechanical inventions only forced his poetry to become a kind of mechanical monster in i t s own right. "Imponderable the dinosaur sinks slow". We frequently wish i t would sink more quickly: The nasal whine of power whips a new universe.. . . Where spouting p i l l a r s spoor the evening sky, Under the looming stacks of the gigantic power house Stars prick the eyes with sharp ammoniac proverbs, New verities, new inklings in the velvet hummed Of dynamos, where hearing's leash i s strummed . . . The desire to include in his poetry what his own aesthetic conscience would not absorb i s transparently evident in this passage. At times Crane's poetry i s swamped in cosmic and exclamatory rhetoric: While Cetus-like, 0 thou Dirigible, enormous Lounger Of pendulous auroral beaches,—satellited wide By convoy planes, moonferrets that rejoin thee On fleeting balconies as thou does glide, —-Hast splintered space! The language of such a passage may not seem "poetic" even today. Probably i t never w i l l be, now that the machine is part of history, no longer a convincing subject for glorification. The major problem reflected in these passages i s the "splintered" vision. As part of an era which denied that all-inclusiveness was a possibility, Crane's poetry was at some point obliged to n u l l i f y i t s own Whitmanism. From the very beginning, when Crane placed his allegiance "to the 211 positive and universal tendencies implicit" (Letters, p. 354) in Whitman, he was essentially de-Whitmanizing the poet, since the latter's "Universal" aspects only grow out of the particular ones. Crane could not be satisfied with a world originating out of a f u l l g lorification of the self, since he f e l t obliged to authenticate a "world of things irreconcilable" which would support his ego. Thus, he remained within the Whitman tradition, at the same time as he was constantly looking beyond i t . By the time Crane was composing the latter sections of The Bridge, he had lost the i n i t i a l Whitman-like sense of affirmation because of the lack of belief i n his own spi r i t u a l hugeness, and i n his own generating power. The true Transcendentalist poet, like the true Romantic, must be large enough to invent a meaning where there i s none, to create out of chaos, to play God and admit that he dared. V. Conclusion Crane's attempt to project a unified vision through his i d e n t i f i -cation with the Transcendentalist outlook helped him to realize a true poetic direction. Like his two fathers of America's cosmic optimism, he experienced the implicit sacrifices and sufferings of this double-minded tradition. Emerson could never have anything but a bi-polar vision. The denaturing of his own ego, based on his need to resolve a general theory by forfeiting the particular elements of the world and his own being, caused him to become a writer of inspirational passages instead of the complete visionary prophet. Uncomfortable in the self -contradiction of an outlook which he could never precisely formulate, he failed to become the poet that, by his vision, he should have been. 212 Whitman could never, on the other hand, let the myth of his sane ego lapse for long, since i t was the single foundation of his poetry. Although he accomplished a more integrated form of Transcendental statement than Emerson, he was obliged to turn his back on anything outside of his self-contradictory posture. Crane experienced similar problems in his work, except that his consciousness of them was even more acute. He had, after a l l , three other ancestors, not, perhaps, from as direct a line, but present a l l the same. They would render his Emersonian-Whitmanian heritage more bearable, by providing a balance, a counter-pressure, to such relent-less myth-making. They would also make i t more unbearable, by shaking cosmic consciousness to i t s very roots with the storm of their ironic and ambiguous heresies. 213 References Chapter 7 "Sjalt Whitman's Workshop: A Collection of Unpublished Manuscripts, ed. Clifton Joseph Furness (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1928), p£ 49. 2 Ezra Pound, The Spirit of Romance (New York: New Directions Pub-lishing Corp., 1968), p. 155. 3Ibid., p. 168. 4 Pound, Selected Poems, ed. T.S. Eliot (London: Faber and Faber, 1968), p. 98. ^Matthew Josephson, Life Among the Surrealists: A Memoir (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1962), p. 263. 6Ibid., p. 232. 7Ibid. 8Ibid., p. 264. 9 "Song Of the Universal" in Leaves of Grass (London: Cassell and Company, Ltd., 1909), p. 221. Subsequent references to Leaves of Grass w i l l be documented internally and w i l l refer to this edition. "Divine am I inside and out, and I make holy whatever I touch or am touch'd from,/The scent of these arm-pits aroma finer than prayer" ("Song of Myself", p. 62). "^Howard J. Waskow, Whitman: Explorations in Form (Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1966), p. 10. 12 Richard Chase, Walt Whitman Reconsidered (New York: Silvane, 1955), pp. 93-94. 13 Bernice Slote, "Views of The Bridge" in James A. Miller, Jr., Karl Shapiro, and Bernice Slote, Start With the Sun: Studies in the Whitman Tradition (The University of Nebraska Press, 1963), p. 10. "^Ibid., p. 6. ^ I b i d . , p. 5 Ibid., p. 6. 214 17. Whitman, "Democratic Vistas", in Walt Whitman: Representative Selections, ed. Floyd Stovall (New York: H i l l and Wang, 1961), p. 387. Subsequent references to Whitman's prose works w i l l be documented internally, and w i l l refer to this edition. 18 e.g., Wall Street, the crowd-bound bridge with i t s "unfractioned idion" of t r a f f i c lights, the river, the hurrying feverish, electric world of "flashing" cinematic scenes, of the "bedlamite" who "speeds to the bridge's parapets", and the "motion ever unspent" of the bridge's "stride". 19 Gay Wilson Allen, Walt Whitman Handbook (Chicago: Packard and Company, 1946), p. 308. 20 Ibid p. 260. 21 Butterfield, p. 95. 22 Ibid p. 217. • > 23 Feidelson, p. 56. 215 CHAPTER VIII HART CRANE AND THE "OTHER AMERICANS": POE Well, perhaps I need a l i t t l e more skepticism to put me right on The Bridge again . . . (Letters, p. 262) Because he wanted to write a poetry dedicated to honestly evaluating the meaning of a search for "mystic America" i n the twentieth century, Crane was obliged to become a poet not merely of optimism but of skepticism as well. From a very early stage i n his development, his idealist-oriented sensibility had readied him for a discipleship in the Transcendentalist tradition. Crane was aware that this tradition was not without i t s own tribulations of doubt and disillusionment. He gave witness to this awareness i n his mentioning of.Whitman's "other hand " in "Cape Hatteras" and i n the t r i a l s of self-annihilation prior to vision i n "Voyages", a poem which owes a considerable debt to the anxiety-ridden "Sea D r i f t " section of Leaves of Grass. Crane experienced, however, a different kind of insecurity, which was to prove much more frightening to him. This deeper skepticism lacked the ordering optimistic principle which always returned to T reinforce the Transcendentalist outlook, even at i t s most apparently negative moments. Crane expressed this feeling of fragmentation i n a statement which outlines his awareness of his moral "schizophrenia": Emotionally I should like to write The Bridge; intellectually judged the whole theme and project seems more and more ab-surd. A fear of personal impotence i n this matter wouldn't affect me half so much as the convictions that arise from other sources . . . (Letters, p. 261) Although this statement i s rather vague about the sources of 216 these doubts, certainly the work of the "other Americans", Poe, Dickin-son and Melville, has a pervasive influence here. Because they were torn between their ideals and disbeliefs, these writers had a s i g n i f i -cant role in determining Crane's poetic formation. If he were honestly determined to define a truly American vision, he could hardly overlook a large portion of his country's heritage, represented by their writ-ings. Whether they appear under their own names or not, their "here-t i c a l " presence i s frequently f e l t throughout Crane's poetry, espe-c i a l l y when he is attempting to deal honestly with the counter-thrust to visionary idealism. For his reason, each of them has an important role in The Bridge, a poem which involves this essential struggle. In fact, Poe and Dickinson both have sections in Crane's "epic" dedicated to them, while Melville's influence pervades in at least two others. I. The "Other Americans": A Definition The problem involved in designating the importance of the "other Americans" for Crane's work rests, above a l l , on the question of their collective identity. Certainly they are far from being co-members of a tradition in the way Emerson and Whitman are. They had no influence over one another's work; nor did they even experience the kind of per-iodic association of dark-visioned minds as in an off-and-on friend-ship like that of Hawthorne and Melville. Poe, Dickinson and Melville were, in fact, quite unknown to one another. Even their shared res-ponse to their American identity i s , by i t s very nature, expressed i n different ways since each writer outlines an attitude unsympathetic to the collective platform of Transcendentalism because of their concern 217 for each man's individualized self-encounter. They believed that their unsystematized and unorthodox positions could only be arrived at through self-knowledge. Any attempt to make of them a school or a group of mutually sympathetic thinkers i s , therefore, bound to f a l s i f y their essential purposes. There are, however, definite elements in their writings which they share. Fir s t of a l l , their unorthodoxy, which defines them as separate identities, also unifies them. Each of them goes beyond Transcendentalism i n the severely antinomian, extremely anti-autho-ritar i a n interpretation of self-reliance as a sine qua non to the "long encounter" with the self. They shared in the same distrust of orthodoxy not because they wanted to be radical individualists out to boost their own egos but because they had to allow their natures to achieve knowledge in their own authentic ways. Because of their unorthodox outlooks, each of them suffered an isolation which he found painful to endure. Secondly, each of these writers was influenced by the Transcen-dentalist outlook, while remaining distinctly separate from i t . The idealist-directed philosophy of Emerson and Whitman was the main current of contemporary intellectual thought. Naturally, the "other Americans" could not help envisioning the art i s t as one who sought out a purpose beyond the sensation-based outlook of "empirical" reality. Nevertheless, they also shared a distrust of the simple-minded opti-mism of the Transcendentalist viewpoint. They could not believe that both halves of their natures—i.e., the "empirical" and "mystical"— 218 could be fused merely through the acknowledgement of their mutural existence, through the domination of the ego, or through a profession of faith in the analogous relationship of these antagonistic natures. The central anti-Transcendentalist element in the outlooks of these writers i s based on the third feature which their writings share, namely their admission of the powerful presence of e v i l . None of them was able to acknowledge e v i l merely as the failure to recog-nize goodness or as the mere absence of i t . For them, e v i l was, i n fact, a power that had a strong role in determining the nature and scope of experience. If they believed in a possible goodness or innocence in man, i t was not eternal or constant, but a precarious or changeable state of being. Fourthly, they distrusted nature as well, and hence disapproved of the Transcendentalist's penchant towards pantheism. For them, the world was not simply an Edenic creation of a benign god. It was a place f u l l of ambiguities, ironies, and shortcomings. Nature was, then, not a kind matron to mankind, but a frequent cosmic enemy or a reminder to man, even at his most optimistic moments, of his mortality or of his smallness. Finally, these "other Americans" shared a desire to return to a positive answer i n evaluating man's l i f e , after confronting the e v i l and suffering of this world, in a forthright and heroic way. Their object was to find a way to the "immortal yes" through the experience of enduring the "mortal no". The failure to acknowledge the fa l l e n -ness of humanity was, they believed, the creation of an unreal outlook 219 which would deny man the chance of ever realizing complete fulfilment, On the other hand, they knew that the achievement of any absolute or positive stand was not for this l i f e , constantly upset as i t was by change, the incalculable event or the unknowable elements in human nature. In his study, Symbolism and American Literature, Charles Feidel-son applies the word "symbolist" to the American writers of the nine-teenth century instead of the word "romantic", since the former term describes a distinctly separate way of handling the poet's "inter-course with the world": 1 The pattern of American romanticism, which began a generation late, was something more than romantic . . . Emerson, Melville, Hawthorne, Poe and whitman inherited the basic problem of romanticism: the vindication of the imaginative thought in a world grown abstract and material. But the problem i s s t i l l before us today; and their solution . . . i s closer to modern notions of symbolic reality than to romantic egoism.2 These writers sought a way of transcending the antagonism between the "empirical" and "mystical" worlds by explori
UBC Theses and Dissertations
Hart Crane’s "Mystical-empirical" poetry and its relation to nineteenth century traditions Bonham, Ronald Allen 1976
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