To Brooklyn Bridge
by Hart Crane
Stanza 9 Summary
Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.
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.
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.