13 November 2014

Poetry Thursday - I saw a man pursuing the horizon by Stephen Crane

"I saw a man pursuing the horizon"

I saw a man pursuing the horizon;
Round and round they sped.
I was disturbed at this;   
I accosted the man.
“It is futile,” I said,
“You can never —”

“You lie,” he cried,   
And ran on.

What a disturbing picture this poem paints - more so for some people than others, for we are asked to "co-create", to bring our own experiences to the reading. As well as the ignorance of the running man, his denial is a technique that keeps him from realising he is wrong, to give him a sense of security, however false. Nor is it only in chasing an unattainable horizon that time and effort is wasted - we can apply this to any pursuit that makes us unable to take in new or possibly challenging information. In a mere 36 words, the poem brings out the defensive and defiant nature of the human race.
Its writer, Stephen Crane (1871-1900) died of tuberculosis at the age of 28, having produced a vast number of newspaper articles, more than 100 stories and sketches, two volumes of poetry, and six novels "The Red Badge of Courage" is the best known. He pioneered in psychological realism, often exploring thoughts of fictional characters facing death. His cynical poems anticipate the free verse style of the 1900s.

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