Saturday, December 17, 2011

Classic Poetry - "In The Desert" by Stephen Crane

In the Desert

by Stephen Crane

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.”

A contemporary and friend of Joseph Conrad, H. G. Wells, and Henry James, Stephen Crane is best known for his internationally acclaimed novel, The Red Badge of Courage. HIs poetry follows the same vein. Realistic, direct and unsentimental, it was quite different from the day's norm. A unique soul, Stephen Crane died when he was only 28.


  1. This is on my very short list of all time favorite poems. As you say, he was way ahead of his time stylistically. I think I've read all of his available poems in print, as well as many of his stories. Did you know he had never seen a battle when he wrote "Red Badge"? It all came from his imagination. What a great choice.

  2. Oh, this brings back memories. In high school I read Red Badge of Courage and then discovered his poetry. Like Fireblossom, I read them all. And I remember this one REALLY clearly. Thanks for sharing this, Kim!

  3. Those last three lines were always among my most favorite in poetry.

  4. I have more of his poetry memorized than most, probably because it's short, but also because of the power. He called his poems "pills."


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