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Subject Falling inyo Crane's memory
Posted by Angel Peng
Posted on Mon Nov 23 22:16:51 1998
From IP ppp69.ivnet.com.tw  

  The poem I'd like to talk about from Hart Crane is "My Grandmother's Love Letters." As I read it for the first time, I fell in love with this poem even though I haven't really understood it totally. It touched my heart and I felt like as if I was involved in his emotion and his memory. This poem does not only sound beautiful but also have something very mysterious and charming inside.
  For the first stanza, there is something very interesting. In the very first sentence, "There are no stars to-night", the word "to-night" seems to be different from how we usually say this word -tonight. I think maybe the "to" here means "until". If it is, then it might mean that in the past few days there were no stars on the sky and so was today. Another sentence that interested me is "Yet how much room for memory there is in the loose girdle of soft rain." To me, this sentence is saying that the poet is in the rain and the space around him is almost occupied by the rain. There is not much room for his memory. Also, maybe he is saying that when he is trying to win his memory back on such a rainy day, he finds that the memory is even weaker than the soft rain and the sound of the rain in the outside world is even louder than the voice of memory in his heart.
  In the second stanza, the first sentence says "There is even enough room for the letters of my mother's mother." I think the poet is trying to say that there is even enough room for the letters but no room for the memory. That's probably because letters are real objects so they can stay forever; however, memory vanishes as time goes by. In addition, the poet is trying to go backwards to search for something in his memory. So, instead of "my grandmother", he chooses to say "my mother's mother." Also, the letters are pressed into a corner of the roof like the memory is hidden in the depth of one's heart. Both the letters and the memory are something mysterious and like secrets which are forgotten for a long time. "Brown and soft and liable to melt as snow" probably means that the letters as well we the memory are so old that they become fragile and delicate.
  To approach the letter and the memory, which are so delicate, "steps must be gentle." To the poet, the space of the letters and the memory seems to be something divine and great that requires reverence. And everything in this space, either the letters or the memory, is something containing his grandmother's life and age. Thus the poet says, "all hung by an invisible white hair." The memory and the letters are now so delicate and weak because of the past time. Yet, they do exist and fulfill the air of this great place like the birch limbs webbing the air.
  Then, the poet hesitated. He doesn't know if he had the ability to bring the memory back to him as it to his grandmother. The memory is like the music from the old keys. It is very weak and almost silent. To play these old keys is like to face the silence of the memory and see how he himself can win it back.
  At the end of the poem, the rain continues. (I think the poet probably is using the rain as background music in this poem.) But the poet comes back to the real world. He stopped thinking because he fails to win back what is passed away through the means of memory. And the rain seems to tell him that the time keeps going on and he can never make it to go back to the past.


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