How does Hart Crane reflect the characteristics and ideals of the modernist movement?

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The work of the American poet Hart Crane is characteristically modernist because it is formally innovative (the poet Ezra Pound's modernist directive was "Make it New") and employs modernist techniques like fragmentation and collage. These techniques help to underline themes of flux or instability that are representative of modernism's attempt to re-envision and rebuild the world in the wake of world war.

One of Crane's most important works is the long poem "The Bridge," which entails a journey through the landscape of American history and culture. Many scholars believe that "The Bridge" is a kind of answer to T. S. Eliot's "The Waste Land," which is likely the most famous modernist poem and is often taken to be the most representative example of modernist style and content. While Eliot's poem is arguably profoundly pessimistic in its emphasis on the rubble and ruin of the early 20th century, Crane's poem is more hopeful—attempting to build a "bridge" from the optimism and romanticism of Whitman's 19th century America to modernism and the realities of his contemporary world. For instance, in the section of "The Bridge" called "The River," Crane refers to modern invention and technology:

—and the telegraphic night coming on Thomas

a Ediford — and whistling down the tracks
a headlight rushing with the sound — can you
imagine — while an Express makes time like
SCIENCE — COMMERCE and the HOLYGHOST
RADIO ROARS IN EVERY HOME ...

In this except you can see the play on words of "Thomas a Ediford" which combines "Thomas a Becket" with "Thomas Alva Edison" and "Henry Ford." In addition, the idea of "HOLYGHOST RADIO" juxtaposes spiritual and technological communication.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on December 12, 2019
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