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Tell Brave Deeds of War -- Stephen Crane

(Poem #690) Tell Brave Deeds of War
 "Tell brave deeds of war."

 Then they recounted tales, --
 "There were stern stands
 And bitter runs for glory."

 Ah, I think there were braver deeds.
-- Stephen Crane
        (Black Riders XV)

I've read a number of war poems, good, bad and indifferent, but nothing
quite like today's quietly understated piece. There is a certain quality to
Crane's work; not quite 'originality', for the sentiment is not a new one,
but rather distinctiveness - not so much what the poem says as how it says

As in many of his other poems, Crane manages to say a lot in surprisingly
few words; nor is it, as with some other poets, a matter of layering
meanings and imagery, or of 'making every word count'. With Crane, it seems
to be more a matter of finding *precisely* the right thing to say, and then
saying it as simply and economically[1] as possible - a technique that
sounds simple enough in theory, but whose difficulty is actually concealed
by the ease with which Crane accomplishes it.

[1] but without ever losing his characteristic tone of voice


poem #196 has a biography and a more extensive discussion of crane's

poem #253 is one of my favourite verses from The Black Riders

And [broken link] contains the complete
text of The Black Riders and Other Lines, of which today's poem is but
stanza XV.


7 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Anonymous said...

The fully text can now be found at

Kang Yudi said...

Thank you for sharing a very nice poem, I like reading it.
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