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To Brooklyn Bridge

To Brooklyn Bridge


by Hart Crane

Stanza 9 Summary

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

Lines 33-34

Again the traffic lights that skim thy swift
Unfractioned idiom, immaculate sigh of stars

  • Now afternoon has turned to night. We see the lights of cars going over the bridge. They "skim" the surface of the bridge like water.
  • The bridge is like a special phrase in a language – an idiom. Idioms are phrases that cannot be understood from their words alone. A "blessing in disguise" is one example. "Idiom" can also refer to a regional dialect.
  • Idioms are generally "unfractioned" – they cannot be split down into parts. You cannot understand "blessing in disguise" and how it is used just from looking up the meanings of each word in the dictionary.
  • The bridge speaks a private and mysterious language. It makes a complete statement that cannot be put into normal words. We're super-deep into the turf of metaphor here.
  • In another delicious image, the bridge is an "immaculate," or perfect, expression of the stars "sighing" down on earth.
  • Remember that in the Christian tradition, Jesus Christ had an "immaculate" birth. It's as if the stars gave birth to the bridge with their breath.

Lines 35-36

Beading thy path--condense eternity:
And we have seen night lifted in thine arms.

  • The language becomes very flowery and Romantic here.
  • The lights on the cars are like beads on a necklace, or like prayer beads.
  • These beads seem to "condense" the promise of eternity into a visual image.
  • The towers of the bridge are like "arms" that lift up the night sky.
  • The bridge is holding the sky above us. Notice all the attributes of motion that are given to a motionless object! That's poetry, baby.

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