My view on Hart Crane's "The Bridge"
May 2, 2007 9:34am CST
Hart Crane’s “The Bridge” The tone of Crane’s poem “The Bridge” is political. Crane’s description of America is of a restrained, repressed America, not a free one. One can sense chaos and disorder as he uses “rings of tumult” as imagery. “Over the chained bay waters of Liberty” personifies America indicates that Lady Liberty (The Statue of Liberty) is being held back. She doesn’t have freedom, although ironically Lady Liberty is supposed to symbolize freedom. The bridge is not only the title of the poem but a powerful image of America. There is a covert image of Walt Whitman in the background, as the poem’s narrator looks wistfully at the past and reminiscently admires Whitman. The poem seems to be a critique of American society and its growing industrialism and commercialism. “I think of cinemas, panoramic sleighs with multitudes bent toward some flashing scene..,” Crane expresses his distaste for a continually changing America, and a death of the past, a time he admired. Although it is not made apparent, there is an underlying current of Crane nostalgically thinking about the past, and Whitman being a highly influential figure in America’s past. There is also a hint of religious element in the poem. “Terrific threshold of the prophet’s pledge, prayer of pariah, and the lover’s cry.” America, like church unites people, brings them together. There are optimistic and pessimistic elements in the poem alike. The poem ends leaving the reader with lack of hope and belief. “Unto us lowliest sometime sweep, descend and of the curveship lend a myth to God.” Religion is a myth, so what is there real to believe in.