Saturday, January 11, 2014

Analysis of "Exile" by Hart Crane

Original poem reprinted online here:  "Exile" by Hart Crane
Originally read: July 7, 2013
More information about the Poet: Hart Crane

Quatrains.  ABAB rhyme scheme.  I don't know when this poem was written in Hart Crane's career.  I want to assume early, and this is because the style is so forward and easily read here which caught me off guard.  I'm used to Hart Crane poems like "For the Marriage of Faustus and Helen" and  "The Bridge" which are heavily allusive pieces not only through myth, and pop culture, but also within the multiple meanings of words as well.

But with this poem, there are big things that are hidden or rather in a state of exile -- the subject, the speaker -- but the language is very forthcoming.

"My hands have not touched pleasure since your hand, -- / No, -- nor my lips freed laughter since 'farewell.'"  There's not tricks in these lines, maybe the punctuation with the double dashes which, around "No" sets up sort of of cumulative effect of lament.  But a reader could infer the emotional lament just from the language already.

"And with the day, distance again expands / Voiceless between us, as an uncoiled shell."  Heavily image based.  "Voiceless" stands out the most because this works as a visual and sonic image of nothing and when the simile gives momentum to the nothing -- something hollow internally and "tough" externally.  Shell could refer to a "bullet" or a metaphorical "sea-shell" -- but both serve a similar function.

"Yet, love endures, through starving and alone. / A dove's wings clung about my heart each night".  Sentimental lines.  Yes, love is there.  Unfortunately, the speaker is "starving and alone" and love is nothing more than a desire.  The dove's wings line is cliche, but at the same token this is what the speaker is "feeling."

"With surging gentleness, and the blue stone / Set in the tryst-ring has but worn more bright."  The sentiment ends with something hopeful.  But what I see in this poem is the start of the "Hart Crane" style -- there's a bud of it with the shell allusion, but past me noted "tryst-ring" -- play on "trust" and "tryst" -- both referring to a lover's agreement.  A single word in the last line shows there could be something more through the language.

Maybe this is a later work...then this analysis would be moot.  Meh.

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