The Poetry of Stephen Crane
In the opening to chapter 5 in his book, The Poetry of Stephen Crane, Daniel Hoffman writes, "For Crane the natural state of man is conflict, against a cruel God, an indifferent nature, an ironic fate. Love is the loyalty of two doomed souls to one another. In a world devoid of moral purpose, life without human loyalties is a senseless protraction of suffering. Confronting huge amoral forces, the individual hews the solitary path of his own unimportant life. His life may be a futile one, but if it has been loyal, kind, or, supremely, sacrificial, he may take comfort from it when all striving is done" [p 146, Daniel Hoffman, The Poetry of Stephen Crane, Columbia University Press, 1957].
A gloomy outlook on life; written before electricity? In the case of Crane, he may have had gaslight in his NYC slum apartment. Alcohol. Boogieman blazing through his brain and blood. Another Crane later would mimmick this same perspective of life and it would cause him to find relief from his futilities by leaping off the Orizaba and into the drink of the Gulf of Mexico, just off Cuba, leaving behind a crazy babe in his stateroom. For Stephen it was drink; another Stephen, Stephen Foster, same sort'a outlook on life, same sort of in-the-gutter, his Gulf of Mexico, ending--Edgar Allan Poe, too; in New York City, too. Damn, isn't it ironic how these souls mingle in the streets of this city? I feel them all the time; right around the corner from me Mark Twain once lived; and I'm only a few blocks from the Herman Melville house; and right up the street in an old 100-year-old hotel Doc Pomus wrote "Burning Love" and "Mess of Blues" for Elvis. John Berryman, the poet who jumped off the Mississippi River Bridge in Minneapolis and drown himself when alcohol no longer worked, was an understander of Stephen Crane.
Hoffman went on to state, "In such a world the natural condition of society is war. From the first, for Crane, war was not a willed human action but a given condition, an aspect of nature."
It's as though that simply from writing The Red Badge of Courage so well, so realistically, Crane developed shell shock, and Crane never was in war. But war hung in his mind and caused him to gargle in alcohol, bury himself in alcohol. "The sun so hot I froze to death."
And here's a poem Crane wrote, but it was never published:
There was crimson clash of war.
Lands turn black and bare;
Babes ran, wondering.
There came one who understood not these things
He said, "Why is this?"
Whereupon a million strove to answer him.
There was such intricate clamour of tongues
That still the reason was not.
[p 151, The Poetry of Stephen Crane.]
In the meantime, war goes on. Crane could have just as well written this poem about Baghdad.
Baghdad is now Holy Hell. "Freedom on the march" has left Baghdad barren, left in a "clamour of tongues" as the "Lands turn black and bare"--and the war goes on and another war starts, Ethiopia attacking Somalia--yep, it's a religious war, Ethiopian Christians versus Somalian Islamics. F-ing religious assholes. Merry F-ing Bloody Jesus X. Christ Birthday to you bloodthirsty lying preying mantises who just keep on lying and lying and lying and don't worry, these slow-ass bastards didn't kill any Taliban big shot. They always come up with that lie every few months. Success, don't you see; shit, success; why, hell, we only need to kill 3 or 4 more thousand of stupid Amurican volunteer soldiers--except conscription is already being bandied about by some of Bush's newly hired goons.
Meanwhile, Bush is on vacation at his faux ranch in Crawford. He's always meeting with his advisors on the War in Iraq, where he's also order the stupid Iraqis to kill Saddam damn fast before Bush falls on his own sword in disgrace. As soon as they cut Saddam's head off, I suppose they'll have another "Mission Accomplished" photo-op. How 'bout a naked Army babe bringing Saddam's head to Georgie Porgie on a silver platter.
We the People of the US of A are being pushed into the gutter by the drunkards who lead us.
And I'm writing poetry again.
for The Daily Growler