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on May 10, 2014
Writers can be diverse, writing in multiple literary genres. J. R. R. Tolkien, for example, while a bit too verbose for my taste, is still brilliant as either a poet or a novelist. There are other writers who wisely stuck with a single genre. P. L. Travers may have been one such writer, sticking closely with Mary Poppins. Stephen Crane should have been one of these latter writers, sticking with what he knew best: Poetry. Reading his prose is like trudging through hip-deep mud, but his poetry shines like the sun on a gentle spring day! One of the first to successfully experiment with free verse, Crane's poetry is insightful in exposing the flaws of human behaviour by simply indicating ways that are better. He is self critical in his verse, allowing readers to see chances to grow themselves without feeling criticized by Crane or his work. His poems, mostly very brief, are largely narrative--little, single-paragraph stories, even though some of his longer poems are more lyrical. This is ironic because it is usually narrative poetry that is longer. If you wish to be challenged to grow and mature, whether you're eight or eighty, if you're looking for easy reading with challenging understanding, then you simply need to read Stephen Crane.
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on November 20, 2003
this collection of crane's complete poetry is divided into four sections. the two most important sections are the two volumes of poetry crane published, which were -the black riders and other lines- and -war is kind-. the third section consists of "uncollected poems", i.e. poems that were published in magazines but did not appear in the two collections, and posthumously published poems.
as the other reviewers have stated, crane was not and is not known for his poetry, but it is quite magnificent. in general his poetry is surprisingly modern. they tend to be more prose-oriented although he often uses literal or loosely repeated sections (i.e. refrains) to good effect. his poetry also tends to be didactic (often taking the form of a parable with such "characters" as mountains, angels, and philosophers), morbid, and direct. which is certainly not to say that they aren't also emotional, masterful, and engaging.
-the black riders- as a whole is more straightforward than the poems in -war is kind-. in general the poems in -black riders- center around the metaphysical, with themes such as religion, ethics, and philosphy appearing often. although -war is kind- contains many of the same themes, it also includes more concrete themes, such as war, the many facets of a man's relationship with a woman, and specific occurrences and objects such as the printing of newspapers. the uncollected and posthumous poetry is varied, but just as excellent if not better than the poems in the two collections.
this edition is quite attractive, a nice size with a mostly competent introductory essay that sheds light on the background of the publishing of crane's two collections. the print itself is generally clean and attractive, although occasionally there are some notable flaws in the printing where a line is too dark or too light. all in all, though, this collection is highly recommended as it is complete and crane's poetry is well worth reading and timelessly relevant.
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on October 4, 2003
Perfect, concise, cynical, truthful, natural poems. Very consistent.
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on September 30, 2003
Crane is best known for writing "The Red Badge of Courage", which is rather unfortunate, because every high school student in America now knows Stephen Crane as the author of the most effective sleep aid available to mankind. In contrast, Crane's poetry is... awesome, dude! Shocking and effective, Crane can convey complicated themes perfectly in desceptively few words. His organic phrasing and rhythm is a style born outside the traditional rules that his more educated peers followed, giving Crane a unique and innovative edge. My copy is always with me, and I'm afraid it's already quite worn.
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on January 29, 2001
Usually read for his one hit novel (Red Badge), Crane produced a score of great stories & a gritty novel about prostitution (Maggie) and some very modern poetry that still reads well today. Put it up against his contemporaries of the 1890's and he sounds remarkably modern. (He even looks modern is some later portraits... I see him hanging out with Brautigan, learning about horses with McGuane, hanging in the streets with...)
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on November 12, 2000
Although Stephen Crane has earned his place in the American literary canon largely on the basis of his novel "The Red Badge of Courage" and his psychologically compelling short fiction, he was also a master of the art of poetry. "The Complete Poems" is a superb tribute to that poetic genius. In addition to collecting all 135 of Crane's known surviving poems, editor Joseph Katz has written a substantial introduction which places Crane's poetic achievement in context.
Most of Crane's poems are written in a free verse using simple, yet quietly powerful language. His words are full of irony and paradox; his vision is sometimes sarcastic and often dark, yet frequently surprises with gentleness and compassion. Reading Crane, I get the sense of meeting an ancient sage on a barren, wind-swept plain. His poems often have an oddly scriptural flavor to them; these are verses that invite return and reflection.
Stephen Crane writes, "I have a thousand tongues / And nine and ninety-nine lie." Nonetheless, in "The Complete Poems of Stephen Crane" the attentive reader will discover a reservoir of disturbing truth.
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on July 4, 2000
Crane does not waste words. Each poem moves quickly to the point, offers you this, and this. In school there may be a couple Crane poems in an english book, but not near enough. From "In a desert" (#3?) to Intrigue, his poems are near perfect and his words still hold strong meaning today, from 80 to over a hundred years after they were written.
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on March 23, 1999
The other reviews say it well. Crane is compact and wonderful. HOWEVER, I cannot emphasize Crane's importance to poetry enough. Although Frost is likely the most important american poet in terms of popularity, Crane set up a dynamic for non-metered poetry which was unprecedented. This is the first example (to my best knowledge) of a conscious effort to move poetry towards it's current incarnation of compact/truncated prose. Adherents to meter dismiss rap, etc... as non-poetic forms....but, I believe they are wrong. These are not prose poems. They are poems. Very concise. Very lucid. Unlike my review....
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on March 3, 1999
Stephen Crane's poetry comes off as a cross between Kabir and Sharon Olds. It's gritty, often harsh, and so compressed that I marvel at Crane's ability to express so much emotion in a few lines. This poetry is all about survival, despair, and a few hard knocks in life .... You won't find many authors tackling the topics that Crane writes about. I turn to this book when I want to get a fresh look at life stripped down to the bones. Highly recommended ... but mix it with something sweet, like a book of love poems, or something by Rumi.
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on February 23, 1999
I found the book Complete poems of Stephen Crane very dull. The poems were not inspiring.
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