Stephen Crane

Poems from "The Black Riders"


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.

A man said to the universe:
"Sir, I exist!"
"However," replied the universe,
"The fact has not created in me
"A sense of obligation."

In the desert
I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
Who, squatting upon the ground,
Held his heart in his hands,
And ate of it.
I said, "Is it good, friend?"
"It is bitter... bitter," he answered:
"But I like it
"Because it is bitter,
"And because it is my heart."

A man saw a ball of gold in the sky.
He climbed for it,
And eventually he achieved it -
It was clay
How, this is the strange part:
When the man went to earth
And looked up again,
Lo, there was a ball of gold.
Ay, by the universe it was a ball of gold.

Many workmen
Built a huge ball of masonry
Upon a mountain-top.
They then went to the valley below.
And they turned to behold their work.
"It is grand," they said;
They loved the thing.
Of a sudden, it moved:
It came upon them swiftly;
It crushed them all to blood.
But some had the opportunity to squeal.

The wayfarer,
Perceiving the pathway to truth,
Was struck with astonishment.
It was thickly grown with weeds.
"Ha," he said,
"I see that none has passed here in a long time."
Later he saw that each weed
Was a singular knife.
"Well," he mumbled at last,
"Doubtless there are other roads."