Hart Crane. White Buildings. New York, Boni & Liveright, 1926.
Hart Crane’s first book of poetry White Buildings, was published when he was 27 years old. Both Gorham Munson and Waldo Frank helped in getting it published and it had an introduction by Allen Tate and blurb by Eugene O’Neill. It was widely reviewed, and very favorably by Yvor Winters, Laura Riding, Edmund Wilson and Mark Van Doren. Crane’s lush romantic vision and Elizabethan rhetoric were in some ways antithetical to the spirit of the times; he rejected the austerity of literary modernists and the machinery of the modern, materialistic age. His poems are spiritual and in fact, religious in nature, without being tied to any particular sect. He was concerned with the nature and development of the spirit and was consuming with longing for transcendence. His densely exploratory use of language and his rich, dramatic diction however were characteristic of the time, as was the intense contemporary resonance of his subjects, including skyscrapers, wine, drunkenness, sex and Charlie Chaplin :
“I am moved to put Chaplin with the poets (of today); hence the ‘we.’ In other words, he, especially in The Kid, made me feel myself, as a poet, as being “in the same boat” with him. Poetry, the human feelings, “the kitten,” is so crowded out of the humdrum, rushing mechanical scramble of today that the man who would preserve them must duck and camouflage for dear life to keep them or himself from annihilation.”
Hart Crane to William Wright, October 1921