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To Brooklyn Bridge

To Brooklyn Bridge


by Hart Crane

Stanza 3 Summary

Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.

Lines 9-10

I think of cinemas, panoramic sleights
With multitudes bent toward some flashing scene

  • OK, so where were we? Oh, right: transience, things passing out of view, things like ghosts.
  • These ideas lead the speaker to an imaginative "leap" – he thinks of the movies, a relatively new technology at the time this was written.
  • Images from movies are also like "ghosts," lacking in substance, passing quickly.
  • Crane gives a very suspicious, almost paranoid description of the act of watching movies.
  • The movies are like a trick, or "sleight." You probably know the expression "sleight of hand."
  • Movies are shown on wide, "panoramic" screens.
  • A "panorama" is also a relic of the 19th century – a circular space that shows some scene (like a battle) as it progresses. The "trick" of a panorama is that, by moving in a circle, you think you are moving forward in time.
  • Crane describes anonymous "multitudes" of people bent towards the screen like mindless drones.
  • The movies promise a "flashing scene" – Redemption? Paradise? Escape? But the viewers never arrive at the expected scene.

Lines 11-12

Never disclosed, but hastened to again,
Foretold to other eyes on the same screen;

  • The movies are not a complete experience. Like the elevator from line 8, a movie "drops" the viewer before revealing or "disclosing" its secret.
  • New viewers enter the theater and are "hastened" to the same dead end.
  • Something is "foretold" to the viewers, like a prophecy. What is the prophecy, and how does it relate to the cryptic "flashing scene"?
  • The prophecy is not fulfilled, it is just told again and again to other eyes or, thinking in puns, to other "I's".

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