The Air Plant

By Hart Crane 1899–1932 Hart Crane

Grand Cayman

This tuft that thrives on saline nothingness,
Inverted octopus with heavenward arms
Thrust parching from a palm-bole hard by the cove⎯
A bird almost⎯of almost bird alarms,

Is pulmonary to the wind that jars
Its tentacles, horrific in their lurch.
The lizard’s throat, held bloated for a fly,
Balloons but warily from this throbbing perch.

The needles and hack-saws of cactus bleed
A milk of earth when stricken off the stalk;
But this,⎯defenseless, thornless, sheds no blood,
Almost no shadow⎯but the air’s thin talk.

Angelic Dynamo! Ventriloquist of the Blue!
While beachward creeps the shark-swept Spanish Main
By what conjunctions do the winds appoint
Its apotheosis, at last⎯the hurricane!

Hart Crane, "The Air Plant" from The Complete Poems of Hart Crane, edited by Marc Simon. Copyright © 1933, 1958, 1966 by Liveright Publishing Corporation. Copyright © 1986 by Marc Simon. Used by permission of Publishing Corporation.

Source: The Complete Poems of Hart Crane (Liveright Publishing Corporation, 1986)

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Poet Hart Crane 1899–1932

SCHOOL / PERIOD Modern

Subjects Nature, Trees & Flowers

 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 Nature, Trees & Flowers

SCHOOL / PERIOD Modern

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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