Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Many Meetings of Stephen Crane

Many know the power of Stephen Crane's prose, through The Red Badge of Courage or perhaps Maggie: A Girl of the Streets.  But few have read his even more remarkable prose-poems.  They ask questions and leaves you hanging, considering, thinking about our troubled world and our relationship to it.

Here are some quotes to get you started:

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.

I met a seer
He held in his hands
The book of wisdom.
"Sir," I addressed him,
"Let me read."
"Child--" he began.
"Sir," I said,
Think not that I am a child,
For already I know much
Of that which you hold.
Aye, much."
He smiled.
Then he opened the book
And held it before me.--
Strange that I should have grown so suddenly blind.

"Think as I think," said a man,
"Or you are abominably wicked;
You are a toad."
And after I had thought of it,
I said, "I will, then, be a toad."

A learned man came to me once.
He said, "I know the way,-- come."
And I was overjoyed at this.
Together we hastened.
Soon, too soon, were we
Where my eyes were useless,
And I knew not the ways of my feet.
I clung to the hand of my friend;
But at last he cried, "I am lost."

Upon the road of my life,
Passed by me many fair creatures,
Clothed all in white, and radiant.
To one, finally, I made speech:
"Who art thou?"
But she, like the others,
Kept cowled her face,
And answered in hate, anxiously,
"I am Good Deep, forsooth;
You have often seen me."
"Not uncowled," I made reply.
And with rash and strong hand,
Though she resisted,
I drew away the veil
And gazed at the features of Vanity.
She, shamefaced, went on;
And after I had mused a time,
I said of myself, 

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