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Saturday, 2 November 2013

Stephen Crane: "I walked in a desert"


Woman posed as sphinx: autochrome photo by Dr. W. Simon, c. 1910 (George Eastman House)

I walked in a desert.
And I cried,
"Ah, God, take me from this place!"
A voice said, "It is no desert."
I cried, "Well, But --
The sand, the heat, the vacant horizon."
A voice said, "It is no desert." 

Stephen Crane (1871-1900): "I walked in a desert", from The Black Riders (1895)

Foolish House, Ontario Beach Park, Greece, New York: autochrome photo by Charles C. Zoller (1854-1934), c. 1910 (George Eastman House)


ACravan said...

On first reading, I thought the poem was one of yours. I love this and it made me think about the denizens of other worlds who are supposedly watching us and collecting information. I hope they're tuned into this one because I think they would enjoy it a lot and it would be a welcome and enlightening break for them. I quickly tried to find contemporary pictures of the Foolish House, but I guess it's long gone. Its image isn't even preserved in the historical photos section of the Ontario Beach Park website, although someone pinned it on Pinterest. I also found several Charles C. Zoller autochrome portraits of Charlie Chaplin in Tramp costume but off-duty, all exceptionally charming. This is all very rich material. Curtis

TC said...

When it comes to the present poem, this is all ye know or need to know.

More of the wonderful Stephen Crane:

Stephen Crane: "A man saw a ball of gold..."

Stephen Crane: "I walked in a desert"

Stephen Crane: "I saw a man pursuing the horizon..."

Stephen Crane: "Many red devils ran from my heart..."

Stephen Crane: "There was a man who lived a life of fire"

TC said...

Curtis, it seems our beams crossed in the fog.

One of mine... if only!

I think I have encountered those mysterious denizens, in my blog stats, duly encrypted of course.

Yes, I too have been torturing my exhausted eyeballs beating through the historical bush in search of The Foolish House.

And then a voice said,

"Seek no further, for it is here."

kent said...

Tom, no joke, I've ALWAYS felt S. Crane part of your voice. He was the very first writer who impressed me as making a difference. I'd say more, but they need me at that desert place we call "Work."

kent said...

Oh, and after the ALCS "Many red devils ran from my heart..." Thank you, Jim Leyland.

TC said...

Kent, Crane's poems have an uncanny strangeness and seeming simplicity about them that's mysteriously reductive, profoundly askew and (for me anyway) brilliantly comic.

I don't suppose Crane intended that latter effect. That's what so good about it. Almost unearthly.

TC said...

Your followup just in. Didn't want to rub it in, but her scarf is rendered in the true-colour red process.

kent said...

I feel like Jack Benny saying, "Now stop that!"

It's bad enough my oldest son grew to love the Red Sox. Now this. It least he loves Crane too.

Wooden Boy said...

That disembodied voice - some sour god - is fascinating.

They are brilliantly comic. Something in the poems' mad dramas reminds me of Krazy Kat strips.

TC said...

Herriman's Coconino County and Crane's desert, perhaps contiguous features in the geography of metaphysical (comic) absurdity.

Aye, a sour God.

Or -- unless we take the voice to be His -- and if that's the case, good luck to us -- one who is forever absconding.