27+ Best Stephen Crane Poems

Stephen Crane was an American poet, novelist, and short story writer. Prolific throughout his short life, he wrote notable works in the Realist tradition as well as early examples of American Naturalism and Impressionism. He is recognized by modern critics as one of the most innovative writers of his generation.

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Famous Stephen Crane Poems

I looked here

I looked here;
I looked there;
Nowhere could I see my love.
And — this time —
She was in my heart.
Truly, then, I have no complaint,
For though she be fair and fairer,
She is none so fair as she
In my heart.

Love walked alone

Love walked alone.
The rocks cut her tender feet,
And the brambles tore her fair limbs.
There came a companion to her,
But, alas, he was no help,
For his name was heart’s pain.

Once there came a man

Once there came a man
Who said,
“Range me all men of the world in rows.”
And instantly
There was terrific clamour among the people
Against being ranged in rows.
There was a loud quarrel, world-wide.
It endured for ages;
And blood was shed
By those who would not stand in rows,
And by those who pined to stand in rows.
Eventually, the man went to death, weeping.
And those who staid in bloody scuffle
Knew not the great simplicity.

In a lonely place

In a lonely place,
I encountered a sage
Who sat, all still,
Regarding a newspaper.
He accosted me:
“Sir, what is this?”
Then I saw that I was greater,
Aye, greater than this sage.
I answered him at once,
“Old, old man, it is the wisdom of the age.”
The sage looked upon me with admiration.

In heaven

In heaven,
Some little blades of grass
Stood before God.
“What did you do?”
Then all save one of the little blades
Began eagerly to relate
The merits of their lives.
This one stayed a small way behind,
Ashamed.
Presently, God said,
“And what did you do?”
The little blade answered, “Oh my Lord,
Memory is bitter to me,
For, if I did good deeds,
I know not of them.”
Then God, in all His splendor,
Arose from His throne.
“Oh, best little blade of grass!” He said.

In the desert

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.”

Black riders came from the sea.

Black riders came from the sea.
There was clang and clang of spear and shield,
And clash and clash of hoof and heel,
Wild shouts and the wave of hair
In the rush upon the wind:
Thus the ride of sin.

With eye and with gesture

With eye and with gesture
You say you are holy.
I say you lie;
For I did see you
Draw away your coats
From the sin upon the hands
Of a little child.
Liar!

I stood upon a highway

I stood upon a highway,
And, behold, there came
Many strange peddlers.
To me each one made gestures,
Holding forth little images, saying,
“This is my pattern of God.
Now this is the God I prefer.”

But I said, “Hence!
Leave me with mine own,
And take you yours away;
I can’t buy of your patterns of God,
The little gods you may rightly prefer.”

A man saw a ball of gold in the sky

A man saw a ball of gold in the sky;
He climbed for it,
And eventually he achieved it —
It was clay.

Now this is the strange part:
When the man went to the earth
And looked again,
Lo, there was the ball of gold.
Now this is the strange part:
It was a ball of gold.
Aye, by the heavens, it was a ball of gold.

“Tell brave deeds of war.”

“Tell brave deeds of war.”

Then they recounted tales, —
“There were stern stands
And bitter runs for glory.”

Ah, I think there were braver deeds.

The wayfarer

The wayfarer,
Perceiving the pathway to truth,
Was struck with astonishment.
It was thickly grown with weeds.
“Ha,” he said,
“I see that none has passed here
In a long time.”
Later he saw that each weed
Was a singular knife.
“Well,” he mumbled at last,
“Doubtless there are other roads.”

I walked in a desert

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.”

Mystic shadow, bending near me

Mystic shadow, bending near me,
Who art thou?
Whence come ye?
And — tell me — is it fair
Or is the truth bitter as eaten fire?

Tell me!
Fear not that I should quaver.
For I dare — I dare.
Then, tell me!

I was in the darkness

I was in the darkness;
I could not see my words
Nor the wishes of my heart.
Then suddenly there was a great light —

“Let me into the darkness again.”

“Think as I think,” said a man

“Think as I think,” said a man,
“Or you are abominably wicked;
You are a toad.”

And after I had thought of it,
I said, “I will, then, be a toad.”

God fashioned the ship of the world carefully

God fashioned the ship of the world carefully.
With the infinite skill of an All-Master
Made He the hull and the sails,
Held He the rudder
Ready for adjustment.
Erect stood He, scanning His work proudly.
Then — at fateful time — a wrong called,
And God turned, heeding.
Lo, the ship, at this opportunity, slipped slyly,
Making cunning noiseless travel down the ways.
So that, forever rudderless, it went upon the seas
Going ridiculous voyages,
Making quaint progress,
Turning as with serious purpose
Before stupid winds.
And there were many in the sky
Who laughed at this thing.

“Truth,” said a traveller

“Truth,” said a traveller,
“Is a rock, a mighty fortress;
Often have I been to it,
Even to its highest tower,
From whence the world looks black.”

“Truth,” said a traveller,
“Is a breath, a wind,
A shadow, a phantom;
Long have I pursued it,
But never have I touched
The hem of its garment.”

And I believed the second traveller;
For truth was to me
A breath, a wind,
A shadow, a phantom,
And never had I touched
The hem of its garment.

A god in wrath

A god in wrath
Was beating a man;
He cuffed him loudly
With thunderous blows
That rang and rolled over the earth.
All people came running.
The man screamed and struggled,
And bit madly at the feet of the god.
The people cried,
“Ah, what a wicked man!”
And —
“Ah, what a redoubtable god!”

The ocean said to me once

The ocean said to me once,
“Look!
Yonder on the shore
Is a woman, weeping.
I have watched her.
Go you and tell her this —
Her lover I have laid
In cool green hall.
There is wealth of golden sand
And pillars, coral-red;
Two white fish stand guard at his bier.

“Tell her this
And more —
That the king of the seas
Weeps too, old, helpless man.
The bustling fates
Heap his hands with corpses
Until he stands like a child
With a surplus of toys.”

God lay dead in heaven

God lay dead in heaven;
Angels sang the hymn of the end;
Purple winds went moaning,
Their wings drip-dripping
With blood
That fell upon the earth.
It, groaning thing,
Turned black and sank.
Then from the far caverns
Of dead sins
Came monsters, livid with desire.
They fought,
Wrangled over the world,
A morsel.
But of all sadness this was sad —
A woman’s arms tried to shield
The head of a sleeping man
From the jaws of the final beast.

Three little birds in a row

Three little birds in a row
Sat musing.
A man passed near that place.
Then did the little birds nudge each other.

They said, “He thinks he can sing.”
They threw back their heads to laugh.
With quaint countenances
They regarded him.
They were very curious,
Those three little birds in a row.

Yes, I have a thousand tongues

Yes, I have a thousand tongues,
And nine and ninety-nine lie.
Though I strive to use the one,
It will make no melody at my will,
But is dead in my mouth.

A man said to the universe

A man said to the universe:
“Sir I exist!”
“However,” replied the universe,
“The fact has not created in me
A sense of obligation.”

Do not weep, maiden, for war is kind

Do not weep, maiden, for war is kind.
Because the lover threw wild hands toward the sky
And the affrighted steed ran on alone,
Do not weep.
War is kind.

Hoarse, booming drums of the regiment,
Little souls who thirst for fight,
These men were born to drill and die.
The unexplained glory flies above them,
Great is the Battle-God, great, and his Kingdom –
A field wher a thousand corpses lie.

Do not weep, babe, for war is kind.
Because your father tumbled in the yellow trenches,
Raged at his breast, gulped and died,
Do not weep.
War is kind.

Swift blazing flag of the regiment,
Eagle with crest of red and gold,
These men were born to drill and die.
Point for them the virtue of slaughter,
Make plain to them the excellence of killing
And a field where a thousand corpses lie.

Mother whose heart hung humble as a button
On the bright splendid shroud of your son,
Do not weep.
War is kind.

And you love me

And you love me

I love you.

You are, then, cold coward.

Aye; but, beloved,
When I strive to come to you,
Man’s opinions, a thousand thickets,
My interwoven existence,
My life,
Caught in the stubble of the world
Like a tender veil —
This stays me.
No strange move can I make
Without noise of tearing
I dare not.

If love loves,
There is no world
Nor word.
All is lost
Save thought of love
And place to dream.
You love me?

I love you.

You are, then, cold coward.

Aye; but, beloved —

Fast rode the knight

Fast rode the knight
With spurs, hot and reeking,
Ever waving an eager sword,
“To save my lady!”
Fast rode the knIght,
And leaped from saddle to war.
Men of steel flickered and gleamed
Like riot of silver lights,
And the gold of the knight’s good banner
Still waved on a castle wall.
. . . . .
A horse,
Blowing, staggering, bloody thing,
Forgotten at foot of castle wall.
A horse
Dead at foot of castle wall.

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