Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Driving by Hart Crane, poet.

It's becoming ever more difficult to find something, or someone, to blog about who or which hasn't already been "done", often numerous times. Example, the other day I set about looking for another lesser-known poet to investigate via bio, poems and natal chart. Hart Crane came up. He seemed like an interesting, yet tragically short-lived poet; he led a life of variable excesses, gay or bi-sexual, alcoholic... then put an early end to it himself.

Nutshell version from
Hart Crane's reputation rests primarily on his extraordinary craftsmanship and sweeping vision. In The Bridge, Crane set out to write an American epic that unified past and present, East and West, myth and reality. Crane's poetic vision, based on views that alcoholic and sexual excesses were a way to achieve a perception of unity of all things, led to self-destructive behavior, and his short, turbulent life ended in suicide.

Born on July 21, 1899, in Garrettsville, Ohio, Harold Hart Crane was a highly anxious and volatile child. He began writing verse in his early teenage years, and though he never attended college, read regularly on his own, digesting the works of the Elizabethan dramatists and poets Shakespeare, Marlowe, and Donne, and the nineteenth-century French poets Vildrac, Laforgue, and Rimbaud. His father, a candy manufacturer, attempted to dissuade him from a career in poetry, but Crane was determined to follow his passion to write.

Living in New York City, he associated with many important figures in literature of the time, including Allen Tate, Katherine Anne Porter, E. E. Cummings, and Jean Toomer, but his heavy drinking and chronic instability frustrated any attempts at lasting friendship. An admirer of T. S. Eliot, Crane combined the influences of European literature and traditional versification with a particularly American sensibility derived from Walt Whitman.

His major work, the book-length poem, The Bridge, expresses in ecstatic terms a vision of the historical and spiritual significance of America. Like Eliot, Crane used the landscape of the modern, industrialized city to create a powerful new symbolic literature. Hart Crane committed suicide in 1932, at the age of thirty-two, by jumping from the deck of a steamship sailing back to New York from Mexico.


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.
Harold Hart Crane

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.
Harold Hart Crane

 Data from
Having discovered that much, and a couple of his shorter, simpler poems, see above, I looked at his natal chart, noted the T-square linking Pluto/Neptune to Saturn with Mars at the apex. Then Google threw up a blog called Astrology of a Trainwreck, the blogger had noticed that Hart Crane and Ernest Hemingway shared a birthday. Here's a link to that post:

Birthday twins July 21 Ernest Hemingway and Hart Crane Genius and Suicide.

Hemingway, by the way, had Virgo rising, according to astro-databank HERE, also Moon in Capricorn.

So someone got there before me - again - and had found an interesting side issue. The post isn't dated year-wise, but appears to come from a few years ago.

Other notables from Crane's natal chart: If time of birth is reliable: Pisces rising, Sun and Venus in Cancer, and Jupiter in Scorpio - all the highly emotional water signs are represented. A strict Capricorn Moon opposing Cancerian arty Venus strikes a discordant note.

Neptune and Pluto close together in Gemini and opposite Saturn would have played a part in a whole group of people's nativities, those planets being slow movers. It's the fact that, in this case they link up to a quicker moving, so personal planet, Mars which makes the resulting network here personally significant to Crane.


mike said...

"Astrology of a Train Wreck" posted on Monday, July 21st, 2008 (see the sentence just above comments). Michelle Perrin now monikers as "Astrology Detective" and now writes for various publications. I used to follow her blog entries, but between my computer glitches erasing bookmarks and her discontinuing her blog, I forgot about her.

It seems a fact that he committed suicide at sea after being beaten for sexual advances toward a male crew-member. Wiki mentions witnesses, but if the witnesses were crew members, I'd suspect he may have been tossed overboard. Surprising to me in the here-and-now, the number of murders on cruise ships that are first designated suicide.

I hope that July 21, 1899, didn't produce too many suicidal individuals...maybe the Virgo-Pisces axis were the hardest hit, with the potent, heavy hitting planets in Gemini and Sagittarius forming the cross.

He has no final planetary dispositor, instead has a quorum Sun, Moon, Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn chain...ruled by committee...not of one mind, erratic and changeable. Neptune on the S Node wasn't good, either.

Though he was considered one of the greats by his contemporaries, I never appreciated his poetry, but I'm not one to favor poetry. His poetry seems pretentious or forced, to me.

Twilight said...

mike ~ Ah yes, thanks - I see the date now - those black background blogs can be an irritation to the eyes, so I exit asap!

I quite liked the two poems I posted. I do enjoy poetry reading - all poetry has to be a tad pretentious I guess - that's an inherent part of it, and of poets in general.
If they weren't pretentious they'd write short stories or novels or reports for newspapers. Lol - I should wash my mouth out now!

Thanks for the additional astrological pointers.

mike (again) said...

I've never had the intellect for poetry. Way back when I was in the early grades of school, we often had English assignments to discern the meaning behind various poetry. I inevitably found meaning that didn't exist to others...LOL. I don't think in metaphorical or figurative terms. On occasion, I don't "get" a joke, because I take it literally...only when people laugh that I know I need to decipher. Add to it, I lack cadence of rhythm. I stuttered as a child and I've never been a second language person...I could only take one semester of college Spanish, because I began to apply the rules of Spanish to my native English. I finally completed my college, second language requirement through computer science programming language.

Twilight said...

mike (again) ~ Yes, I do, kind of, understand your take on poetry. I read it, myself, more as though I'm reading song lyrics, first for rhythm, and second for a flimsy veil of meaning. I think some school teachers' demands for finding "hard" meanings in poems does spoil poetry for some readers; that's a shame. I like to find the "feel" and "atmosphere" of a poem rather than a definite meaning...a bit like astrology I guess. Sad, melancholy poems can help through difficult times I've found.
Not sure why that is. :-/