Stephen Crane

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What is the meaning behind Stephen Crane's poem "I was in the Darkness"?

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“I Was in the Darkness” is a very short poem, only five lines, with the final line set off from the rest. Despite the brevity, however, the poem tells a complete story, and a common one. As the title suggests, the speaker at the beginning of the poem “was in...

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“I Was in the Darkness” is a very short poem, only five lines, with the final line set off from the rest. Despite the brevity, however, the poem tells a complete story, and a common one. As the title suggests, the speaker at the beginning of the poem “was in the darkness.” The darkness symbolizes a lack of understanding about the speaker’s self. To quote the entire work,

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.”

The speaker did not understand who he was, or what he wanted; he did not understand why he said and did the things he said and did. He was blind to himself, until, as referenced in line 4, as if illuminated by a flash of lightening, it all became clear to him. And a vision, once seen, cannot be forgotten.

The final line of the poem is a quotation, an imploration in the present-tense to some unknown entity. The speaker is no longer describing his previous state; he is living his new one, and reacting in real time. He is begging to once again live in ignorance of his situation and his self. This is a commentary on how difficult it can be to acknowledge all the truths of one’s existence. It is much easier to delude oneself about one’s desires and lifestyle. Growth and understanding are painful and frightening, and once one embarks on this journey of discovery sometimes the desire to return to the comfort of where you were before is overwhelming. It is this moment of truth and subsequent fear that is described in the poem.

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