RANDALL H. WALDRON
and the Machine
In 1914 T. E. Hulme predicted with accuracy that now seems akin to prophecy that twentieth-century art was moving toward the creation of forms "associated in our minds with the idea of machinery"; toward the time when a sculptor would prefer to organic, natural forms "the hard clean surface of a piston rod." Fifteen years later Hart Crane, who dubbed himself "the Pindar of the Machine Age," and whose poem The Bridge has been termed "the most extraordinary example of the psychological impact of mechanization of modern poetry," called for the poet to embrace the world of the machine, "for unless poetry can absorb the machine, i.e., acclimatize it as naturally and casually as trees, cattle, galleons, castles, and all other associations of the past, then poetry has failed of its full contemporary function." And Crane's friend and editor Waldo Frank, also writing in 1929, echoes the poet's call for the "acclimatization" of the machine, attributing its growing capacity to pervade and dominate human experience to "a negative reflex of man's incapacity as yet to create a Whole in modern terms and to assimilate the machine as a means and a symbol within it."
But in spite of such admonitions to absorb mechanization and to recognize its rightful and defining place in life and literature; even in spite of the degree to which Hulme's prediction about the influence of machine forms on art has been realized, American writers have for the most part resisted the overtures of the machine. "The Dynamo and the Virgin"____________________