The American poet Hart Crane (1899-1932) was born in Garrettsville, Ohio, though he moved to New York City while still a teenager. Inspired by the Modernist poet T. S. Eliot, he was determined to create his own, more vibrant style. Crane in turn inspired many writers and artists, such as the Beat poets Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac and the painter Jasper Johns. He committed suicide at 33.
My Grandmother’s Love Letters
There are no stars tonight
But those of memory.
Yet how much room for memory there is
In the loose girdle of soft rain.
There is even room enough
For the letters of my mother’s mother,
That have been pressed so long
Into a corner of the roof
That they are brown and soft,
And liable to melt as snow.
Over the greatness of such space
Steps must be gentle.
It is all hung by an invisible white hair.
It trembles as birch limbs webbing the air.
And I ask myself:
“Are your fingers long enough to play
Old keys that are but echoes:
Is the silence strong enough
To carry back the music to its source
And back to you again
As though to her?”
Yet I would lead my grandmother by the hand
Through much of what she would not understand;
And so I stumble. And the rain continues on the roof
With such a sound of gently pitying laughter.