Stephen Crane The Poet And The Writer

Stephen Crane

Stephan Crane

Born November 1st, 1871 in Newark, New Jersey, Stephen Crane is an American novelist, poet and short-story writer who is popularly known for famous novels such as Maggie: A Girl of the Streets (1893), The Red Badge of Courage (1895), and many more. Stephen’s father Jonathan Crane, a minister died in 1880, leaving Stephen, the youngest of his children to be raised by their strong-minded mother.

After attending preparatory school, Stephen went on to spend 2 years at college. Later, he moved to New York City and lived in a boarding house for medical students while freelancing his way to a career in literature. Stephen wrote the first book of his career in 1893 named Maggie: A Girl of the Streets. This book is a reflection of an innocent and abused slum girl, which follows her descent into the seedy world of prostitution.

First Fame

To the surprise of most enthusiasts, Crane published his first book under a pseudonym. He struggled as an unknown freelance journalist until he made the acquaintance of Hamlin Garland. Soon after, he released his second novel, The Red Badge of Courage and thefirst book of his poems, The Black Riders, and Other Lines, which brought him international fame. The Red Badge of Courage is an impressionistic study of a young soldier who is trying to understand his experiences on the battlefield.

Personal Life

In 1897, Crane met Cora Taylor, the owner of the infamous Hotel de Dream, a provocative guest house that featured a nightclub and brothel. As a common-law couple, they moved together to England, although, he was becoming progressively unwell. While living in England, Stephen bonded with literary peers Joseph Conrad, H. G. Wells, and Henry James.

He continued writing fiction to earn money and fulfill his creative interests. Before long, he reported for duty in New York during the Spanish-American War, an assignment he welcomed as an escape from the debts he and Cora had accumulated. By 1900, Crane’s lifestyle had taken a toll on his body, as his health steadily declined. After several bouts of respiratory failure, Crane died of tuberculosis at the age of twenty-eight.

Some Opinions On Him

Although Crane reached the height of his success with The Red Badge of Courage, critics seem to agree that some of his best works were in the short story genre. His most acclaimed short stories include: “The Open Boat,” “The Blue Hotel,” and “The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky.”

His most popular poems are:

“Behold the grave of a wicked man”

Behold, the grave of a wicked man,
And near it, a stern spirit.
There came a drooping maid with violets,
But the spirit grasped her arm.
“No flowers for him,” he said.
The maid wept:
“Ah, I loved him.”
But the spirit, grim and frowning:
“No flowers for him.”

Now, this is it —
If the spirit was just,
Why did the maid weep?

“I saw a man pursuing the horizon”

I saw a man pursuing the horizon;
Round and round they sped.
I was disturbed at this;   
I accosted the man.
“It is futile,” I said,
“You can never —”

“You lie,” he cried,   
And ran on.

“In heaven”

In Heaven,
Some little blades of grass
Stood before God.
“What did you do?”
Then all save one of the little blades
Began eagerly to relate
The merits of their lives.
This one stayed a small way behind
Ashamed.
Presently God said:
“And what did you do?”
The little blade answered: “Oh, my lord,
“Memory is bitter to me
“For if I did good deeds
“I know not of them.”
Then God in all His splendor
Arose from His throne.
“Oh, best little blade of grass,” He said.

“In the desert”

In the desert
I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
Who, squatting upon the ground,
Held his heart in his hands,
And ate of it.
I said, “Is it good, friend?”
“It is bitter—bitter,” he answered;

“But I like it
“Because it is bitter,
“And because it is my heart.”

“A man said to the universe”

A man said to the universe:
“Sir, I exist!”
“However,” replied the universe,
“The fact has not created in me
A sense of obligation.”

“Once there came a man”

Once there came a man
Who said:
“Range me all men of the world in rows.”
And instantly
There was a terrific clamor among the people
Against being ranged in rows.
There was a loud quarrel, world-wide.
It endured for ages;
And blood was shed
By those who would not stand in rows,
And by those who pined to stand in rows.
Eventually, the man went to death, weeping.
And those who stayed in the bloody scuffle
Knew not the great simplicity.

“Should the wide world roll away”

Should the wide world roll away
Leaving black terror
Limitless night,
Nor God, nor man, nor place to stand
Would be to me essential
If thou and thy white arms were there
And the fall to doom a long way.

” I explain the silvered passing of a ship at night ”

I explain the silvered passing of a ship at night,
The sweep of each sad lost wave
The dwindling boom of the steel thing’s striving
The little cry of a man to a man
A shadow falling across the greyer night
And the sinking of the small star.

Then the waste, the far waste of waters
And the soft lashing of black waves
For long and in loneliness.

Remember, thou, O ship of love,
Thou leavest a far waste of waters
And the soft lashing of black waves
For long and in loneliness.

His Struggle

Stephen Crane had fought a desperate battle against time, illness and exposure from his years in the Bowery area and as a work correspondent in the country of Cuba. His almost deliberate disregard for his health conditions likely accelerated the disease that killed him at a very early age.

Conclusion

Considered as one of America’s foremost realistic writers of his time, Stephen Crane has been credited with marking the beginning of the age of modern American naturalism in terms of literature. The civil war novel The Red Badge of Courage is considered an American literature classic, that realistically depicts the psychological complexities, and the fear and courage of soldiers on the battlefield. Despite being one of the most successful novelists in his time Stephen Crane suffered from aserious illness that ultimately ended the life of one of the most popular writers of the late 19th century.

Check out this short video I made of one of my favorite poems by him. If you would, please like and subscribe to the channel. It really does help. Thanks!

For more poetry check out: Poets.org

Check out the story I’m writing: Psychological Horror – “The role we play.”

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