Friday, May 23, 2008

Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge
Brooklyn Bridge is 125 years old. To celebrate, Jurisdynamics presents Hart Crane's poetic tribute, To Brooklyn Bridge:

Hart Crane, To Brooklyn Bridge

  • How many dawns, chill from his rippling rest
  • The seagull's wings shall dip and pivot him,
  • Shedding white rings of tumult, building high
  • Over the chained bay waters Liberty —

  • Then, with inviolate curve, forsake our eyes
  • As apparitional as sails that cross
  • Some page of figures to be filed away;
  • — Till elevators drop us from our day . . .

  • I think of cinemas, panoramic sleights
  • With multitudes bent toward some flashing scene
  • Never disclosed, but hastened to again,
  • Foretold to other eyes on the same screen;

  • And Thee, across the harbor, silver-paced
  • As though the sun took step of thee, yet left
  • Some motion ever unspent in thy stride, —
  • Implicitly thy freedom staying thee!

  • Out of some subway scuttle, cell or loft
  • A bedlamite speeds to thy parapets,
  • Tilting there momently, shrill shirt ballooning,
  • A jest falls from the speechless caravan.

  • Down Wall, from girder into street noon leaks,
  • A rip-tooth of the sky's acetylene;
  • All afternoon the cloud-flown derricks turn . . .
  • Thy cables breathe the North Atlantic still.

  • And obscure as that heaven of the Jews,
  • Thy guerdon . . . Accolade thou dost bestow
  • Of anonymity time cannot raise:
  • Vibrant reprieve and pardon thou dost show.

  • O harp and altar, of the fury fused,
  • (How could mere toil align thy choiring strings!)
  • Terrific threshold of the prophet's pledge,
  • Prayer of pariah, and the lover's cry, —

  • Again the traffic lights that skim thy swift
  • Unfractioned idiom, immaculate sigh of stars,
  • Beading thy path — condense eternity:
  • And we have seen night lifted in thine arms.

  • Under thy shadow by the piers I waited;
  • Only in darkness is thy shadow clear.
  • The City's fiery parcels all undone,
  • Already snow submerges an iron year . . .

  • O Sleepless as the river under thee,
  • Vaulting the sea, the prairies' dreaming sod,
  • Unto us lowliest sometime sweep, descend
  • And of the curveship lend a myth to God.


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