Harold Hart Crane

(21 July 1899 – 27 April 1932 / Garrettsville, Ohio)

The Broken Tower - Poem by Harold Hart Crane

The bell-rope that gathers God at dawn
Dispatches me as though I dropped down the knell
Of a spent day - to wander the cathedral lawn
From pit to crucifix, feet chill on steps from hell.

Have you not heard, have you not seen that corps
Of shadows in the tower, whose shoulders sway
Antiphonal carillons launched before
The stars are caught and hived in the sun's ray?

The bells, I say, the bells break down their tower;
And swing I know not where. Their tongues engrave
Membrane through marrow, my long-scattered score
Of broken intervals… And I, their sexton slave!

Oval encyclicals in canyons heaping
The impasse high with choir. Banked voices slain!
Pagodas campaniles with reveilles out leaping-
O terraced echoes prostrate on the plain!…

And so it was I entered the broken world
To trace the visionary company of love, its voice
An instant in the wind (I know not whither hurled)
But not for long to hold each desperate choice.

My world I poured. But was it cognate, scored
Of that tribunal monarch of the air
Whose thighs embronzes earth, strikes crystal Word
In wounds pledges once to hope - cleft to despair?

The steep encroachments of my blood left me
No answer (could blood hold such a lofty tower
As flings the question true?) -or is it she
Whose sweet mortality stirs latent power?-

And through whose pulse I hear, counting the strokes
My veins recall and add, revived and sure
The angelus of wars my chest evokes:
What I hold healed, original now, and pure…

And builds, within, a tower that is not stone
(Not stone can jacket heaven) - but slip
Of pebbles, - visible wings of silence sown
In azure circles, widening as they dip

The matrix of the heart, lift down the eyes
That shrines the quiet lake and swells a tower…
The commodious, tall decorum of that sky
Unseals her earth, and lifts love in its shower.

Comments about The Broken Tower by Harold Hart Crane

  • Neil Stewart McleodNeil Stewart Mcleod (5/2/2018 12:34:00 PM)

    Now I get the prairie dogs, but I have searched hard and long to find the tempered catholic logic this lexicon of stanzas pours out like a bubbling stream, beautifully concealing its intent.
    It reads beautifully

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  • Susan WilliamsSusan Williams (7/21/2016 5:53:00 PM)

    The image of the tower. What tower? Well, a bell tower naturally jumps to mind. But there are other towers. The Tower of Babel. The Ivory Tower. A human body. Hmm. The last thought intrigues me. With that symbol we could go nuts talking about the human condition with its imperfections, hope, despair, and love. Or maybe its just a bell tower..... (Report)Reply

    Susan WilliamsSusan Williams(7/27/2016 9:19:00 PM)

    Sandra, you tickle me to death! ! ! I prefer Hostess Cupcakes though they would make a sound like smoosh- smoosh- smoosh in that bell tower.

    Sandra Feldman(7/21/2016 11:26:00 PM)

    Just a Bell tower, that's it, we're just a bunch of Ding-Dongs trying to survive in the length of sound.

    5 person liked.
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  • James MclainJames Mclain (7/21/2016 11:00:00 AM)

    can't jump to high
    yet inevitably
    when a bird flies to low
    it hits the
    windshield of a car.. iip

    2 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Edward Kofi LouisEdward Kofi Louis (7/21/2016 5:56:00 AM)

    Shadows in the tower! ! Thanks for sharing. (Report)Reply

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  • Justin GonzalezJustin Gonzalez (11/25/2012 3:43:00 AM)

    I wish I wrote this poem. But since it has already been written, I wish I could one day write a poem that is anywhere near as good. (Report)Reply

    1 person liked.
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Poem Submitted: Monday, April 5, 2010

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