blacktitle.jpg (12329 bytes)

Hart Crane: Additional Poems

At Melville's 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.

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. 


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. 

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. 


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. 

North Labrador

A land of leaning ice
Hugged by plaster-grey arches of sky,
Flings itself silently
Into eternity. 

"Has no one come here to win you, 
Or left you with the faintest blush
Upon your glittering breasts? 
Have you no memories, O Darkly Bright?" 

Cold-hushed, there is only the shifting moments 
That journey toward no Spring - 
No birth, no death, no time nor sun 
In answer. 

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
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.

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.

Voyages III

Infinite consanguinity it bears 
This tendered theme of you that light 
Retrieves from sea plains where the sky 
Resigns a breast that every wave enthrones; 
While ribboned water lanes I wind 
Are laved and scattered with no stroke 
Wide from your side, whereto this hour 
The sea lifts, also, reliquary hands. 

And so, admitted through black swollen gates 
That must arrest all distance otherwise, 
Past whirling pillars and lithe pediments, 
Light wrestling there incessantly with light, 
Star kissing star through wave on wave unto 
Your body rocking! 
                                and where death, if shed, 
Presumes no carnage, but this single change,- 
Upon the steep floor flung from dawn to dawn 
The silken skilled transmemberment of song; 

Permit me voyage, love, into your hands . . . 

Voyages IV

Whose counted smile of hours and days, suppose 
I know as spectrum of the sea and pledge 
Vastly now parting gulf on gulf of wings 
Whose circles bridge, I know, (from palms to the severe 
Chilled albatross's white immutability) 
No stream of greater love advancing now 
Than, singing, this mortality alone 
Through clay aflow immortally to you. 

All fragrance irrefragably, and claim 
Madly meeting logically in this hour 
And region that is ours to wreathe again, 
Portending eyes and lips and making told 
The chancel port and portion of our June- 

Shall they not stem and close in our own steps 
Bright staves of flowers and quills today as I 
Must first be lost in fatal tides to tell? 

In signature of the incarnate word 
The harbor shoulders to resign in mingling 
.Mutual blood, transpiring as foreknown 
And widening noon within your breast for gathering 
All bright insinuations that my years have caught 
For islands where must lead inviolably 
Blue latitudes and levels of your eyes,- 

In this expectant, still exclaim receive 
The secret oar and petals of all love. 

Voyages V

Meticulous, past midnight in clear rime, 
Infrangible and lonely, smooth as though cast 
Together in one merciless white blade- 
The bay estuaries fleck the hard sky limits. 

-As if too brittle or too clear to touch! 
The cables of our sleep so swiftly filed, 
Already hang, shred ends from remembered stars. 
One frozen trackless smile . . . What words 
Can strangle this deaf moonlight? For we 

Are overtaken. Now no cry, no sword 
Can fasten or deflect this tidal wedge, 
Slow tyranny of moonlight, moonlight loved 
And changed . "There's 

Nothing like this in the world," you say, 
is Knowing I cannot touch your hand and look 
Too, into that godless cleft of sky 
Where nothing turns but dead sands flashing. 

"-And never to quite understand!" No, 
In all the argosy of your bright hair I dreamed 
Nothing so flagless as this piracy. 

                                        But now 
Draw in your head, alone and too tall here. 
Your eyes already in the slant of drifting foam; 
Your breath sealed by the ghosts I do not know: 
Draw in your head and sleep the long way home. 

Voyages VI

Where icy and bright dungeons lift 
Of swimmers their lost morning eyes, 
And ocean rivers, churning, shift 
Green borders under stranger skies, 

Steadily as a shell secretes 
Its beating leagues of monotone, 
Or as many waters trough the sun's 
Red kelson past the cape's wet stone; 

0 rivers mingling toward the sky 
And harbor of the phoenix' breast 
My eyes pressed black against the prow, 
-Thy derelict and blinded guest 

Waiting, afire, what name, unspoken 
I cannot claim: let thy waves rear 
More savage than the death of kings, 
Some splintered garland for the seer. 

Beyond siroccos harvesting 
The solstice thunders, crept away, 
Like a cliff swinging or a sail 
Flung into April's inmost day- 

Creation's blithe and petalled word 
To the lounged goddess when she rose 
Conceding dialogue with eyes 
That smile unsearchable repose- 

Still fervid covenant, Belle Isle, 
-Unfolded floating dais before 
Which rainbows twine continual hair 
Belle Isle, white echo of the oar! 

The imaged Word, it is, that holds 
Hushed willows anchored in its glow. 
It is the unbetrayable reply 
Whose accent no farewell can know. 

My Grandmother's Love Letters 

There are no stars to-night 
But those of memory. 
Yet how much room for memory there is 
In the loose girdle of soft rain. 

There is even room enough 
For the letters of my mother's mother, 
That have been pressed so long 
Into a corner of the roof 
That they are brown and soft, 
And liable to melt as snow. 

Over the greatness of such space 
Steps must be gentle. 
It is all hung by an invisible white hair. 
It trembles as birch limbs webbing the air. 

And I ask myself: 

"Are your fingers long enough to play 
Old keys that are but echoes: 
Is the silence strong enough 
To carry back the music to its source 
And back to you again 
As though to her?" 

Yet I would lead my grandmother by the hand 
Through much of what she would not understand; 
And so I stumble. And the rain continues on the roof 
With such a sound of gently pitying laughter. 


Where the cedar leaf divides the sky 
I heard the sea. 
In sapphire arenas of the hills 
I was promised an improved infancy. 

Sulking, sanctioning the sun, 
My memory I left in a ravine,- 
Casual louse that tissues the buck-wheat, 
Aprons rocks, congregates pears 
In moonlit bushels 
And wakens alleys with a hidden cough. 

Dangerously the summer burned 
(I had joined the entrainments of the wind). 
The shadows of boulders lengthened my back: 
In the bronze gongs of my cheeks 
The rain dried without odour. 

"It is not long, it is not long; 
See where the red and black 
Vine-stanchioned valleys-": but the wind 
Died speaking through the ages that you know 
And bug, chimney-sooted heart of man! 
So was I turned about and back, much as your smoke 
Compiles a too well-known biography. 

The evening was a spear in the ravine 
That throve through very oak. And had I walked 
The dozen particular decimals of time? 
Touching an opening laurel, I found 
A thief beneath, my stolen book in hand. 

"'Why are you back here-smiling an iron coffin? 
" "To argue with the laurel," I replied: 
"Am justified in transience, fleeing 
Under the constant wonder of your eyes-." 

He closed the book. And from the Ptolemies 
Sand troughed us in a glittering,, abyss. 
A serpent swam a vertex to the sun 
-On unpaced beaches leaned its tongue and 
What fountains did I hear? What icy speeches? 
Memory, committed to the page, had broke. 


Regard the capture here, 0 Janus-faced, 
As double as the hands that twist this glass. 
Such eves at search or rest you cannot see; 
Reciting pain or glee, how can you bear! 

Twin shadowed halves: the breaking, second holds t, 
In each the skin alone, and so it is 
I crust a plate of vibrant mercury 
Borne cleft to you, and brother in the half. 

Inquire this much-exacting fragment smile, 
Its drums and darkest blowing leaves ignore,- 
Defer though, revocation of the tears 
That yield attendance to one crucial sign. 

Look steadily-how the wind feasts and spins 
The brain's disk shivered against lust. Then watch 
While darkness, like an ape's face, falls away, 
And gradually white buildings answer day. 

Let the same nameless gulf beleaguer us- 
Alike suspend us from atrocious sums 
Built floor by floor on shafts of steel that grant 
The plummet heart, like Absalom, no stream. 

The highest tower,-let her ribs palisade 
Wrenched gold of Nineveh;-yet leave the tower. 
The bridge swings over salvage, beyond wharves; 
A wind abides the ensign of your will . . . 

In alternating bells have you not heard 
All hours clapped dense into a single stride? 
Forgive me for an echo of these things, 
And let us walk through time with equal pride. 

For The Marriage of Faustus and Helen

"And so we may arrive by Talmud skill 
And profane Greek to raise the building up 
Of Helen's house against the Ismaelite, 
King of Thogarma, and his habergeons 
Brimstony, blue and fiery; and the force 
Of King A baddon, and the beast of Cittim; 
Which Rabbi David Kimchi, Onkelos, 
And A ben Ezra do interpret Rome. " 

The mind has shown itself at times 
Too much the baked and labeled dough 
Divided by accepted multitudes. 
Across the stacked partitions of the day- 
Across the memoranda, baseball scores, 
The stenographic smiles and stock quotations 
Smutty wings flash out equivocations. 

The mind is brushed by sparrow wings; 
Numbers, rebuffed by asphalt, crowd 
The margins of the day, accent the curbs, 
Convoying divers dawns on every' corner 
To druggist, barber and tobacconist, 
Until the graduate opacities of evening 
Take them away as suddenly to somewhere 
Virginal perhaps, less fragmentary, cool.

There is the world dimensional for 
those untwisted by the love of things 
irreconcilable ... 

And yet, suppose some evening I forgot 
The fare and transfer, yet got by that way 
Without recall,-lost yet poised in traffic. 
Then I might find your eyes across an aisle, 
Still flickering with those prefigurations- 
Prodigal, yet uncontested now, 
Half-riant before the jerky window frame. 

There is some way, I think, to touch 
Those hands of yours that count the nights 
Stippled with pink and green advertisements. 
And now, before its arteries turn dark 
I would have you meet this bartered blood. 
Imminent in his dream, none better knows 
The white wafer cheek of love, or offers words 
Lightly as moonlight on the eaves meets snow. 

Reflective conversion of all things 
At your deep blush, when ecstasies thread 
The limbs and belly, when rainbows spread 
Impinging on the throat and sides 
Inevitable, the body of the world 
Weeps in inventive dust for the hiatus 
That winks above it', bluet in your breasts. 

The earth may glide diaphanous to death; 
But if I lift my arms it is to bend 
To you who turned away once, Helen, knowing 
The press of troubled hands, too alternate 
With steel and soil to hold you endlessly. 
I meet you, therefore, in that eventual flame 
You found in final chains, no captive then 
Beyond their million brittle, bloodshot eyes; 
White, through white cities passed on to assume 
That world which comes to each of us alone. 

Accept a lone eye riveted to your plane, 
Bent axle of devotion along companion ways 
That beat, continuous, to hourless days- 
0ne inconspicuous, glowing orb of praise. 


Brazen hypnotics glitter here; 
Glee shifts from foot to foot, 
Magnetic to their tremulo. 
This crashing opera bouffe, 
Blest excursion! this ricochet 
From roof to roof- 
Know, Olympians, we are breathless 
While nigger cupids scour the stars! 

A thousand light shrugs balance us 
Through snarling hails of melody. 
White shadows slip across the floor 
Splayed like cards from a loose hand; 
Rhythmic ellipses lead into canters 
Until somewhere a rooster banters. 

Greet naively-yet intrepidly 
New soothings, new amazements 
That cornets introduce at every turn- 
And you may fall downstairs with me 
With perfect grace and equanimity. 
Or, plaintively scud past shores 
Where, by strange harmonic laws 
All relatives, serene and cool, 
Sit rocked in patent armchairs. 

0, I have known metallic paradises 
Where cuckoos clucked to finches 
Above the deft catastrophes of drums. 
While titters hailed the groans of death 
Beneath gyrating awnings I have seen 

The incunabula of the divine grotesque. 
This music has a reassuring way, 

The siren of the ' springs of guilty song- 
Let us take her on the incandescent wax 
Striated with nuances nervosities 
That we are heir to: she is still so young, 
She cannot frown upon her as she smiles, 
Dipping here in this cultivated storm 
Among slim skaters of the gardened skies. 


Capped arbiter of beauty in this street 
That narrows -darkly into motor dawn, 
You, here beside m/e, delicate ambassador 
Of intricate slain numbers that arise 
In whispers, naked of steel; 
                                religious gunman! 
Who faithfully, yourself, will fall too soon, 
And in other ways than as the wind settles 
On the sixteen thrifty bridges of the city: 
Let us unbind our throats of fear and pity. 

                                            We even, 
Who drove speediest destruction 
In corymbulous formations of mechanics,- 
Who hurried the hill breezes, spouting malice 
Plangent over meadows, and looked down 
On rifts of torn and empty houses 
Like old women with teeth unjubilant 
That waited faintly, briefly and in vain: 

We know, eternal gunman, our flesh remembers 
The tensile boughs, the nimble blue plateaus, 
The mounted, yielding cities of the air! 

That saddled sky that shook down vertical 
Repeated play of fire-no hypogeum 
Of wave or rock was good against one hour. 
We did not ask for that, but have survived, 
And will persist to speak again before 
All stubble streets that have not curved 
To memory, or known the ominous lifted arm 

That lowers down the arc of Helen's brow 
To saturate with blessing and dismay. 

A goose, tobacco and cologne- 
Three winged and gold-shod prophecies of heaven, 
The lavish heart shall always have to leaven 
And spread with bells and voices, and atone 
The abating shadows of our conscript dust. 

Anchises' navel, dripping of the sea,- 
The hands Erasmus dipped in gleaming tides, 
Gathered the voltage of blown blood and vine; 
Delve upward for the new and scattered wine, 
0 brother-thief of time, that we recall. 
Laugh out the meager penance of their days 
Who dare not share with us the breath released, 
The substance drilled and spent beyond repair 
For golden, or the shadow of gold hair. 

Distinctly praise the years, whose volatile 
Blamed bleeding hands extend and thresh the height 
The imagination spans beyond despair, 
Outpacing bargain, vocable and prayer. 


The Broken Tower

The bell-rope that gathers God at dawn 
Dispatches me as though I dropped down the knell 
Of a spent day - to wander the cathedral lawn 
From pit to crucifix, feet chill on steps from hell. 

Have you not heard, have you not seen that corps 
Of shadows in the tower, whose shoulders sway 
Antiphonal carillons launched before 
The stars are caught and hived in the sun's ray? 

The bells, I say, the bells break down their tower; 
And swing I know not where. Their tongues engrave 
Membrane through marrow, my long-scattered score 
Of broken intervals ... And I, their sexton slave! 

Oval encyclicals in canyons heaping 
The impasse high with choir. Banked voices slain! 
Pagodas campaniles with reveilles out leaping- 
O terraced echoes prostrate on the plain! ... 

And so it was I entered the broken world 
To trace the visionary company of love, its voice 
An instant in the wind (I know not whither hurled) 
But not for long to hold each desperate choice. 

My world I poured. But was it cognate, scored 
Of that tribunal monarch of the air 
Whose thighs embronzes earth, strikes crystal Word 
In wounds pledges once to hope - cleft to despair? 

The steep encroachments of my blood left me 
No answer (could blood hold such a lofty tower 
As flings the question true?) -or is it she 
Whose sweet mortality stirs latent power?- 

And through whose pulse I hear, counting the strokes 
My veins recall and add, revived and sure 
The angelus of wars my chest evokes: 
What I hold healed, original now, and pure ... 

And builds, within, a tower that is not stone 
(Not stone can jacket heaven) - but slip 
Of pebbles, - visible wings of silence sown 
In azure circles, widening as they dip 

The matrix of the heart, lift down the eyes 
That shrines the quiet lake and swells a tower... 
The commodious, tall decorum of that sky 
Unseals her earth, and lifts love in its shower.

Return to Hart Crane