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Friday, 6 May 2011

Stephen Crane: "In the desert..."


Alentours du volcan Izzeguerit, sur le Bagzane (Aïr Mountains, Niger)
: photo by Jacques Taberlet, 2002

In the desert
I saw a creature, naked, bestial,

Who, squatting upon the ground,

Held his heart in his hands,

And ate of it.

I said, "Is it good, friend?"
"It is bitter -- bitter", he answered,
"But I like it
Because it is bitter,

And because it is my heart."

Issouane Erg, Sahara Desert, Algeria: image by ISS Crew Earth Observations and Image Science & Analysis Group, Johnson Space Center, 16 January 2005 (NASA)

File:Rub' al Khali (Arabian Empty Quarter) sand dunes imaged by Terra (EOS AM-1).jpg

Sand dunes in Rub'al Khalia, Arabia's "Empty Quarter": image from Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer, or ASTER, aboard the Terra satellite, by NASA/GSFC/METI/ERSDA/JAROS and US/Japan ASTER Science team, 12 December 2005 (NASA)

Erg Chebbi, Morocco: photo by Rosino, 10 January 2006

Stephen Crane (1871-1900): "In the desert...", from The Black Rider and Other Lines, 1895

"I cannot help disappearing and dissolving. It is my foremost trait."


TC said...

Stephen Crane: disappearing, dissolving, reanimated

gamefaced said...

i once worked in a catalog call center. very slow all year except for the months before xmas. we were allowed to read between calls. i read this exact piece of crane's in my old american lit text book there in that lonely cubical and became obsessed. i copied it word for word at least ten times in my notebook. i retraced the letters that made the words that made it work so well in my head. over and over till my pen worked through the page. i still love it. my heart rate increases till the finish. it never fails to seize me.

so thanks for making my friday!

TC said...

gamefaced, our hearts beat as one, out here in the desert.

Anonymous said...

Sensational. I'm thinking about gamefaced's call center story as I am about to embark (never leaving my desk as I do it) on what can only be considered a fool's errand. I have no choice but to go forward, but I'll be thinking of the Crane and the images as I hold the phone away from my ear and put the microphone on mute so that I can complete the errand and possibly achieve non-disastrous results. I'd say "it's a living", but I'm not being paid enough to make that work.

Ed Baker said...


" i retraced the letters
that made the words
that made it work
so well in my head."

that is a (near ) perfect line

re:minds me a bit of the rhythms of
Stephen Vincent Benet ... and others

gamefaced said...

thank you ed.

i dunno what happened, just fell out of me : )

i do love this poem.

manik sharma said...

its almost as if you traced my steps before i could make a leap here..are we being paid enough...certainly not...are we paying enough...more than we can imagine...blood looses its shine as it becomes thicker(slowly)...that is what is happening here..or rather here and there....i hope we keep flowing

"our hearts beat as one"
resonating with songs unsung
the sky askew with reflections
of this cold desert night...
the moon sits with the puppeteers grin...
my heart unleashed..upon me....

Robb said...

Tom, so glad to see Wednesday came and went, as it was going to do no matter what. The ol' parillab is still working, eh? A blessing when there are so few. Here's to more Wednesdays.

Elmo St. Rose said...

desert clarity



"I cannot help disappearing and dissolving. . . .


lines of pink-orange cloud in blue-white
sky above ridge, blue jay on pine branch
in foreground, sound of wind in branches

were to appear, the apparent
latest painting still

in itself, a kind of spatial
noise, the same plane

white cloud in pale blue sky on horizon,
sunlit green of pine on tip of sandspit