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