To Brooklyn Bridge
A close analysis of The Bridge must begin with consideration of the epigraph, the quotation from the Book of Job which gives Satan's reply to God's question "Whence come ye?" Satan's reply is, "From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it." The implications, not only of the exchange between God and Satan but also of the use of this particular passage by Crane, are most important to the meaning and structure of The Bridge. First, this is Satan's answer to the Christian God, just as the satanic or Orphic belief in The Bridge is Crane's answer to conventional Christian doctrine and its arbitrary judgments of good and evil. Second, the epigraph stresses Crane's insistence on the earthly, that mundane experience which in his view is inseparable from spirit and vision. Satan is thus equated with experience, with energy and activity, and to deny Satan is to deny life. Third, "to and fro" and "up and down" bespeak contraries, polarities, and indicate the cyclic nature of existence--a concept which runs throughout The Bridge --as well as the conquest of space. Fourth, the quotation reminds us that in the Book of Job it is really Satan who is God's agent, a view thoroughly compatible with the Orphic, Dionysian, satanic concept of a dualistic godhead. Fifth, God is shown to be susceptible to Satan's temptations (for he wagers with Satan amicably) just as man is susceptible to the purportedly "evil" influence of Satan. Sixth, and perhaps most important of all, is the implication in God's question itself which invites Satan's answer. "Whence come ye?" God asks Satan. Yet if God is omnipotent he knows where Satan has been and the geographical meaning of the answer is unnecessary. But might he not be asking "What is your origin?" for although God also knows the origin of Satan as his own creation, he does not know evil nor the source of evil, since in conventional Christian belief God cannot be the source of evil. The implication of
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Publication information: Book title: Hart Crane's Harp of Evil:A Study of Orphism in the Bridge. Contributors: Jack C. Wolf - Author. Publisher: Whitston. Place of publication: Troy, NY. Publication year: 1986. Page number: 19.
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