Re-reading some parts of Crane's Bridge. The picayune dismissals of Logan & Kirsch, like those of their predecessors in this vein, just miss the point. Someday when I get my act together I will write that essay about this. Yes, he is uneven, sometimes bathetic, sometimes bombastic. But when he is good, he is simply head & shoulders above anyone else. He is the genius of These States. In the section titled "The River", for example.

How does he do it? Marianne Moore called him "erudite". This is very apt. I think Crane better than all the rest absorbed lessons of Renaissance poetics. He mastered the measure of a rich pentameter. When he added this, first, to his native musical talent, and 2nd, to his sense of mythos (the symbolic plot - the "myth of America") - then what he accomplished in 45 or so pages is equal to what Olson or Pound did in 600 pp. of musical "notes"... (but it's not just 3 things... there's the essential 4th thing - that Platonic-demonic-orphic enthusiasm, that boldness, that inspired-fiery "afflatus"...)

Crane's work sets him in a small group, with Melville, Dickinson, Whitman, Poe... maybe Henry James, Hawthorne, Eliot, Stevens, a few others... the true original American masters...

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