The Waste Land
Hart Crane's long poem setting out his ‘Myth of America’, published in 1930. The lyrical realism of the poem, ‘To Brooklyn Bridge’, identifies the bridge as symbol of the sequence's imaginative development. The eight succeeding sections form an impressionistic survey of the human and natural characters of America. Columbus's dramatic monologue in ‘Ave Maria’, the first part, recognizes the divine purpose for the country as ‘one shore beyond desire’. The second part, ‘Powhatan's Daughter’, vividly evokes human activity and potential in the passage entitled ‘The River’, which opens with an experimental collage of advertising slogans. Pocahontas emerges through an abundance of sensually precise natural imagery as a feminine embodiment of the land itself and its indigenous culture. ‘Cape Hatteras’, the fourth section, uses its address to Walt Whitman as a basis for a lyrically compelling celebration of the spirit of progress. The sixth section, ‘Quaker Hill’,forms a critique of the materialist constraints on America's utopian potential, which has its antithesis in the view of urban degradation in ‘The Tunnel’, the penultimate section. ‘Atlantis’, the conclusion, returns to the opening's view of the bridge, its ‘one arc synoptic of all tides’ the symbol and reality around which the final exalted affirmation accumulates. Crane intended the poem, his ‘symbol of our constructive future’, as a corrective to the pessimism of T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land; its expansive vision is sustained by a vibrant technical versatility and the remarkable geographical and thematic mobility with which it charts the actuality and ideal of America.