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The Brooklyn Bridge and Hart Crane

NYC-Walks-Blog-51a-Hart-Crane-and-Brooklyn-Bridge

Stephen Bayley, in “The Brooklyn Bridge — an engineering masterpiece and symbol of unity,” observed that “Hart Crane’s 1930 poem ‘The Bridge’, an ecstatic hymn to all things pontine with atmospheric photographs by his friend, Walker Evans. This was a year after the opening of New York’s Museum of Modern Art and techno-romanticism was dans le vent. ‘A rip-tooth of the sky’s acetylene’, Crane writes and, most often quoted : ‘And of the curveship lend a myth to God’. And to prove Ballard’s truth about mysterious alignments, Hart Crane lived at Columbia Heights in Brooklyn, the very same address as Washington Roebling. To both men, the bridge was a looming presence, both mechanical and metaphysical, but to Roebling it was something else besides: involved in decisive actions for the Union at Antietam and Gettysburg, he perhaps saw the bridge as a unifying symbol after a divisive Civil War.”– https://www.spectator.co.uk/2017/06/the-brooklyn-bridge-an-engineering-masterpiece-and-symbol-of-unity/

“Harold Hart Crane (July 21, 1899 – April 27, 1932) was an American poet. Finding both inspiration and provocation in the poetry of T. S. Eliot, Crane wrote modernist poetry that was difficult, highly stylized, and ambitious in its scope. In his most ambitious work, The Bridge, Crane sought to write an epic poem, in the vein of The Waste Land, that expressed a more optimistic view of modern, urban culture than the one that he found in Eliot’s work. In the years following his suicide at the age of 32, Crane has been hailed by playwrights, poets, and literary critics alike (including Robert Lowell, Derek Walcott, Tennessee Williams, and Harold Bloom), as being one of the most influential poets of his generation.”– https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hart_Crane

 

To Brooklyn Bridge

Hart Crane, 1899 – 1932

How many dawns, chill from his rippling rest

The seagull’s wings shall dip and pivot him,

Shedding white rings of tumult, building high

Over the chained bay waters Liberty—

 

Then, with inviolate curve, forsake our eyes

As apparitional as sails that cross

Some page of figures to be filed away;

—Till elevators drop us from our day . . .

 

I think of cinemas, panoramic sleights

With multitudes bent toward some flashing scene

Never disclosed, but hastened to again,

Foretold to other eyes on the same screen;

 

And Thee, across the harbor, silver-paced

As though the sun took step of thee, yet left

Some motion ever unspent in thy stride,—

Implicitly thy freedom staying thee!

 

Out of some subway scuttle, cell or loft

A bedlamite speeds to thy parapets,

Tilting there momently, shrill shirt ballooning,

A jest falls from the speechless caravan.

 

Down Wall, from girder into street noon leaks,

A rip-tooth of the sky’s acetylene;

All afternoon the cloud-flown derricks turn . . .

Thy cables breathe the North Atlantic still.

 

And obscure as that heaven of the Jews,

Thy guerdon . . . Accolade thou dost bestow

Of anonymity time cannot raise:

Vibrant reprieve and pardon thou dost show.

 

O harp and altar, of the fury fused,

(How could mere toil align thy choiring strings!)

Terrific threshold of the prophet’s pledge,

Prayer of pariah, and the lover’s cry,—

 

Again the traffic lights that skim thy swift

Unfractioned idiom, immaculate sigh of stars,

Beading thy path—condense eternity:

And we have seen night lifted in thine arms.

 

Under thy shadow by the piers I waited;

Only in darkness is thy shadow clear.

The City’s fiery parcels all undone,

Already snow submerges an iron year . . .

 

O Sleepless as the river under thee,

Vaulting the sea, the prairies’ dreaming sod,

Unto us lowliest sometime sweep, descend

And of the curveship lend a myth to God.

https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/brooklyn-bridge

NYC Walks Blog 51 The Brooklyn Bridge and Hart Crane

 

 

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