Lectures on Some Modern Poets

By Margaret Foster Leclair; Beekman W. Cottrell et al. | Go to book overview

HART CRANE POET OF THE MACHINE AGE

MARGARET FOSTER LE CLAIR

I SHOULD LIKE to take you back this morning to the spring of 1924. The time is dawn; the scene is a room in downtown Brooklyn--a room with a view of the East River. At the window stands a tall young man watching the last star turn in the waking west and go to sleep. Across the harbor, as the dark fades into cold grey, the windows of Manhattan's skyscrapers go slowly blond. Far to the left, the torch of the Statue of Liberty dims out; to the right, gulls rise in a white whir of wings above Brooklyn Bridge, emerging from shadowy outline into its daylight solidity of stone and steel. From the twin granite towers, steel cables sweep to meet the rising span of the roadway in its long leap across the dividing waters, the spidery network of wire supports tracing a vast and delicate web against the brightening sky. And you know, as you watch the young man's expression, that to him the bridge is a beautiful thing--its mass, its pattern, its soaring curve. But you feel also that it must mean something much more, for in his face is the reverence most people reserve for the symbols of their religion. It is as if the line of the bridge were carrying his eye beyond the visible to an unseen but palpable presence.

-3-

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