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Best Famous Hart Crane Poems

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by Hart Crane |

Forgetfulness

 Forgetfulness is like a song 
That, freed from beat and measure, wanders. 
Forgetfulness is like a bird whose wings are reconciled, 
Outspread and motionless, -- 
A bird that coasts the wind unwearyingly. 

Forgetfulness is rain at night, 
Or an old house in a forest, -- or a child. 
Forgetfulness is white, -- white as a blasted tree, 
And it may stun the sybil into prophecy, 
Or bury the Gods. 

I can remember much forgetfulness.


by Hart Crane |

To Emily Dickinson

 You who desired so much--in vain to ask--
Yet fed you hunger like an endless task,
Dared dignify the labor, bless the quest--
Achieved that stillness ultimately best,

Being, of all, least sought for: Emily, hear!
O sweet, dead Silencer, most suddenly clear
When singing that Eternity possessed
And plundered momently in every breast; 

--Truly no flower yet withers in your hand.
The harvest you descried and understand
Needs more than wit to gather, love to bind.
Some reconcilement of remotest mind-- 

Leaves Ormus rubyless, and Ophir chill.
Else tears heap all within one clay-cold hill.


by Hart Crane |

The Great Western Plains

 The little voices of the prairie dogs 
Are tireless . . . 
They will give three hurrahs 
Alike to stage, equestrian, and pullman, 
And all unstingingly as to the moon. 

And Fifi's bows and poodle ease 
Whirl by them centred on the lap 
Of Lottie Honeydew, movie queen, 
Toward lawyers and Nevada. 

And how much more they cannot see! 
Alas, there is so little time, 
The world moves by so fast these days! 
Burrowing in silk is not their way -- 
And yet they know the tomahawk. 

Indeed, old memories come back to life; 
Pathetic yelps have sometimes greeted 
Noses pressed against the glass.


by Hart Crane |

Carmen De Boheme

 Sinuously winding through the room 
On smokey tongues of sweetened cigarettes, -- 
Plaintive yet proud the cello tones resume 
The andante of smooth hopes and lost regrets. 

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 hall. 
Their brown eyes blacken, and the blue drop hue. 

The andante quivers with crescendo's start, 
And dies on fire's birth in each man's heart. 
The tapestry betrays a finger through 
The slit, soft-pulling; -- -- -- and music follows cue. 

There is a sweep, -- a shattering, -- a choir 
Disquieting of barbarous fantasy. 
The pulse is in the ears, the heart is higher, 
And stretches up through mortal eyes to see. 

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 lips. 

Finale leaves in silence to replume 
Bent wings, and Carmen with her flaunts through the gloom 
Of whispering tapestry, brown with old fringe: -- 
The winers leave too, and the small lamps twinge. 

Morning: and through the foggy city gate 
A gypsy wagon wiggles, striving straight. 
And some dream still of Carmen's mystic face, -- 
Yellow, pallid, like ancient lace.


by Hart Crane |

Interior

 It sheds a shy solemnity,
This lamp in our poor room.
O grey and gold amenity, --
Silence and gentle gloom!

Wide from the world, a stolen hour
We claim, and none may know
How love blooms like a tardy flower
Here in the day's after-glow.

And even should the world break in
With jealous threat and guile,
The world, at last, must bow and win
Our pity and a smile.


by Hart Crane |

The Visible The Untrue

 Yes, I being
the terrible puppet of my dreams, shall
lavish this on you—
the dense mine of the orchid, split in two.
And the fingernails that cinch such
environs?
And what about the staunch neighbor tabulations,
with all their zest for doom?

I'm wearing badges
that cancel all your kindness. Forthright
I watch the silver Zeppelin
destroy the sky. To
stir your confidence?
To rouse what sanctions—?

The silver strophe... the canto
bright with myth ... Such
distances leap landward without
evil smile. And, as for me....

The window weight throbs in its blind
partition. To extinguish what I have of faith.
Yes, light. And it is always
always, always the eternal rainbow
And it is always the day, the farewell day unkind.


by Hart Crane |

Voyages II

 --And yet this great wink of eternity,
Of rimless floods, unfettered leewardings,
Samite sheeted and processioned where
Her undinal vast belly moonward bends,
Laughing the wrapt inflections of our love;

Take this Sea, whose diapason knells
On scrolls of silver snowy sentences,
The sceptred terror of whose sessions rends
As her demeanors motion well or ill,
All but the pieties of lovers' hands.

And onward, as bells off San Salvador
Salute the crocus lustres of the stars,
In these poinsettia meadows of her tides,--
Adagios of islands, O my Prodigal,
Complete the dark confessions her veins spell.

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.

Bind us in time, O Seasons clear, and awe.
O minstrel galleons of Carib fire,
Bequeath us to no earthly shore until
Is answered in the vortex of our grave
The seal's wide spindrift gaze toward paradise.


by Hart Crane |

At Melvilles Tomb

 Often beneath the wave, wide from this ledge
The dice of drowned men's bones he saw bequeath
An embassy. Their numbers as he watched,
Beat on the dusty shore and were obscured.

And wrecks passed without sound of bells,
The calyx of death's bounty giving back
A scattered chapter, livid hieroglyph,
The portent wound in corridors of shells.

Then in the circuit calm of one vast coil,
Its lashings charmed and malice reconciled,
Frosted eyes there were that lifted altars;
And silent answers crept across the stars.

Compass, quadrant and sextant contrive
No farther tides . . . High in the azure steeps
Monody shall not wake the mariner.
This fabulous shadow only the sea keeps.


by Hart Crane |

Chaplinesque

 We will make our meek adjustments,
Contented with such random consolations
As the wind deposits
In slithered and too ample pockets.

For we can still love the world, who find
A famished kitten on the step, and know
Recesses for it from the fury of the street,
Or warm torn elbow coverts.

We will sidestep, and to the final smirk
Dally the doom of that inevitable thumb
That slowly chafes its puckered index toward us,
Facing the dull squint with what innocence
And what surprise!

And yet these fine collapses are not lies
More than the pirouettes of any pliant cane;
Our obsequies are, in a way, no enterprise.
We can evade you, and all else but the heart:
What blame to us if the heart live on.

The game enforces smirks; but we have seen
The moon in lonely alleys make
A grail of laughter of an empty ash can,
And through all sound of gaiety and quest
Have heard a kitten in the wilderness.


by Hart Crane |

To Brooklyn Bridge

 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.