EXPLICATION HELPS IN UNDERSTANDING THIS POEM
"For Hart Crane"
This short poem is a homage to the poet Hart Crane, a poet with whom Ken Beattie
feels a great spiritual affinity. The opening sentence describes the suicide of
Crane, a suicide, which like the Japanese novelist Mishima Yukio, Crane was
inevitably moving towards; his poetry and life always had that quality of standing
too close to the rails, always teetering, just about to fall into the sea. His
and prose had been replete with classical and historical allusions, so it is wi
some surprise that when he did finally take his life there was no St. John or S
in the water with him. The poem makes us realise that it was Hart Crane who had
become his own myth.
Robert Lowell's poem "Words for Hart Crane" contrasts nicely with Ken Beattie's
poem. Lowell's is more of a poetic example of literary criticism:
"When the Pulitzers showered on some dope
or screw who flushed our dry mouths out with soap,
few people would consider why I took
to stalking sailors, and scattered Uncle Sam's
phony gold-plated laurels to the birds.
Because I knew my Whitman like a book,
stranger in America, tell my country: I,
Catullus redivivus, once the rage
of the Village and Paris, used to play my role
of homosexual, wolfing the stray lambs
who hungered by the Place de la Concorde.
My profit was a pocket with a hole.
Who asks for me, the Shelley of my age,
must lay his heart out for my bed and board."
from Life Studies.