Hart Crane (Harold Hart Crane) Biography
(1899–1932), (Harold Hart Crane), Little Review, The Seven Arts, White Buildings, The Bridge, rationale, Complete Poems
American poet, born in Garrettsville, Ohio, he grew up and was educated in Cleveland. In 1916 he established contacts with the literary circles associated with the Little Review and The Seven Arts; the international Modernism of the former and the latter's more conservative and nationalist aesthetics both affected his development as a poet—in much of his best work an experimental ethos and an emphatic urban realism combine with magisterial effects achieved through his virtuosity in the use of traditional forms. Throughout the early 1920s he lived in New York, working in various capacities while gaining increasing notice as a poet through his contributions to leading literary journals. White Buildings, his first collection of poetry, appeared to critical acclaim in 1926. Among the well-known works it contains are ‘For the Marriage of Faustus and Helen’, in which Crane's transcendentally lyrical view of his New York surroundings first achieves full expression, and the six poems of ‘Voyages’, an erotic and mystical meditation sustained by imagery of the sea. Encouraged by the success of White Buildings, Crane devoted himself to the completion of The Bridge (1930), which is widely regarded as one of the major long poems of the twentieth century. The book was, however, disappointingly received by reviewers who failed to discern its underlying unity in terms of what Crane termed ‘the rationale of metaphor’. In 1931 he travelled to Mexico to produce an epic poem based on the history of Montezuma; lack of progress on the work, together with accumulating personal difficulties, among them his increasingly heavy drinking and confusion regarding his sexuality, gave rise to the acute depression in which he jumped to his death from the boat on which he was returning to New York in April 1932. Complete Poems (1966) was edited by Brom Weber, who also edited Crane's Letters (1952). Voyager, John Unterecker's biography of Crane, appeared in 1969.