from The Bridge: Southern Cross

By Hart Crane 1899–1932 Hart Crane
I wanted you, nameless Woman of the South,
No wraith, but utterly—as still more alone
The Southern Cross takes night
And lifts her girdles from her, one by one—
High, cool,
               wide from the slowly smoldering fire
Of lower heavens,—      
                         vaporous scars!

Eve! Magdalene!
                        or Mary, you?

Whatever call—falls vainly on the wave.
O simian Venus, homeless Eve,
Unwedded, stumbling gardenless to grieve
Windswept guitars on lonely decks forever;
Finally to answer all within one grave!

And this long wake of phosphor,
                                          iridescent
Furrow of all our travel—trailed derision!
Eyes crumble at its kiss. Its long-drawn spell
Incites a yell. Slid on that backward vision
The mind is churned to spittle, whispering hell.

I wanted you . . . The embers of the Cross
Climbed by aslant and huddling aromatically.
It is blood to remember; it is fire
To stammer back . . . It is
God—your namelessness. And the wash—         

All night the water combed you with black
Insolence. You crept out simmering, accomplished.
Water rattled that stinging coil, your
Rehearsed hair—docile, alas, from many arms.
Yes, Eve—wraith of my unloved seed!

The Cross, a phantom, buckled—dropped below the dawn.
Light drowned the lithic trillions of your spawn.

Source: The Complete Poems of Hart Crane (2001)

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Poet Hart Crane 1899–1932

SCHOOL / PERIOD Modern

Subjects Love, Seas, Rivers, & Streams, Activities, Travels & Journeys, Nature, Relationships, Infatuation & Crushes, Unrequited Love

 Hart  Crane

Biography

Hart Crane is a legendary figure among American poets. In his personal life he showed little self-esteem, indulging in great and frequent bouts of alcohol abuse. In his art, however, he showed surprising optimism. Critics have contended that for Crane, misery and despair were redeemed through the apprehension of beauty, and in some of his greatest verses he articulated his own quest for redemption. He also believed strongly in . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Love, Seas, Rivers, & Streams, Activities, Travels & Journeys, Nature, Relationships, Infatuation & Crushes, Unrequited Love

SCHOOL / PERIOD Modern

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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