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To Brooklyn Bridge

To Brooklyn Bridge


by Hart Crane

Stanza 7 Summary

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

Lines 25-26

And obscure as that heaven of the Jews,
Thy guerdon . . . Accolade thou dost bestow

  • OK, this poem is starting to get crazy difficult to figure out.
  • A "guerdon" is a very archaic word for "reward."
  • The bridge gives a reward to the careful viewer, but this reward is as mysterious and hidden ("obscure") as the depictions of heaven in the Hebrew Bible or Christian Old Testament, the scriptures of the Jewish people.
  • The takeaway is that the bridge is now a symbol of religious salvation. The speaker is almost worshipping it.
  • The bridge also gives "accolades," or praise. "Bestow" means to give.
  • Crane sure does use a lot of archaic language in this poem – why do you think that is?

Lines 27-28

Of anonymity time cannot raise:
Vibrant reprieve and pardon thou dost show.

  • Paradoxically, the bridge gives praise to anonymity, to people who are nothing special. Maybe that's because the bridge is so magnificent it makes people feel small in comparison. (That doesn't sound like praise to us!)
  • Part of Crane's point might be to turn seemingly negative things (like being anonymous) into positive ones.
  • Time cannot exceed the bridge's praise of anonymity, or, maybe, time cannot make people any more anonymous than the bridge can.
  • The passing of time makes people more and more anonymous. Think of people a thousand years ago – except for a few really, really famous folks, almost all of them are unknown.
  • The bridge can also pardon people – like a king, the president of the United States, or the Pope.
  • The bridge gives people "reprieve" (relief, a pass) for their sins.
  • Maybe the speaker means that looking at the bridge makes you feel like you've been forgiven for something bad you did.
  • The bridge is starting to sound like royalty, or a religious figure.

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