"...A Piece of Pure Invention:"
a Hart Crane Episode
JOHN E. UNTERECKER
MOST of us think of Hart Crane as a "difficult" poet,
as the author of the enormously intricate book-
length poem The Bridge or as the author of the
no-less-intricate—if shorter—lyrics that were collected in his
first book of poems. White Buildings.
If we are familiar with the legends that were built up around
him during his lifetime and just after his suicide, we are likely
also to think of him as a difficult man—a hard-drinking "roaring
boy," an undisciplined, undisciplinable man of violent and un¬
predictable behavior who might, after a night on the town,
amuse his friends with wild tales of streetcorner orations, of
barroom brawls, of battles with the police or with his type¬
writer—an object whicli toward the end of his benders sometimes
refused to write and which, in punishment, was more than once
hurled through (closed) second-story windows.
The stories are good ones, and they impro\'e with the telling.
But they do not even hint of an altogether different side of
Crane's life—a side that is revealed in considerable detail in the
great mass of correspondence—much of it still unpublished—
between Crane and his friends, betw een Crane and his family.
For here we can see the roots of those complicated forces that
Copyright 1966, by John E. Unterecker