(Poem #264) There Was a Man Who Lived a Life of Fire (The Black Riders LXII)
There was a man who lived a life of fire. Even upon the fabric of time, Where purple becomes orange And orange purple, This life glowed, A dire red stain, indelible; Yet when he was dead, He saw that he had not lived.
We've had a poem by Crane quite recently, but I thought this made a perfect followup to 'Recompense'. Crane, characteristically enough, sets up all the standard images, then turns them on thier heads with the final lines. I've already said that one of the things I like about Crane is his ability to challenge set world-views and make the reader think; while today's poem certainly satisfies this, it also exhibits Crane's sheer skill as a poet. Yes, the central theme of the first six lines is thoroughly standard; still, Crane has handled it with both vividness and economy. Indeed, the ending was a bit of a disappointment; I felt that the first six lines would have made a wonderful poem in their own right, and while I can see his reasons both for the change of tone and the almost antipoetic way in which it was expressed, I still feel that neither the idea nor its juxtaposition with the first theme were original enough to compensate for the letdown.  yes, this is a technical term. no, I am not using it in its technical sense. Links: More about Crane at poem #196 Recompense is at poem #261 I've done a somewhat related theme on death in the flames - see poem #34, poem #36, and poem #38. m.