Sunday, February 26, 2012

Tuesday Poem - In the Desert by Stephen Crane

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.”

I watched the Czech movie Tobruk on SBS recently because I have an Australian friend who is a Rat of Tobruk  and he has told me many stories. But I didn't know there had been a Czech  unit defending Tobruk so I was intrigued, and I also wanted to see what sort of fist they made of any Australians that appeared. The Australians were believable but absolutely not the focus of the story. That in itself was fascinating. At the end of the movie this poem by Stephen Crane was displayed. I hadn't come upon it before and I liked it very much. It was perfectly in context.  
It made me wonder if perhaps T. S. Eliot had read Crane because the line – I will show you fear in a handful of dust – (from The Waste Land) came into my mind as I read the poem on the screen. I read the subtitles of course, because the poem had been translated into Czech.

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  1. This poem always slays me, no matter how many times I've read it. The American novelist, Joyce Carol Oates, titled one of her books "Because It Is Bitter and Because It Is My Heart." Perfect.

  2. There are echoes to/of Ozymandias, too ... Interesting poem and the film sounds fascinating as well.

  3. I suspect T S Eliot had read pretty much everything.
    I think I have read the Crane poem before somewhere, it is very powerful.