Samuel Greenberg: American Poet
the poet seeks an earth in himself

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Greenberg and Hart Crane

Critical attention to Greenberg has its foundation in studies of Hart Crane's poetry. Crane's "Emblems of Conduct", which his editors at first assumed to be a completely original work, is actually a mosaic of slightly-altered lines taken from six of Greenberg's poems. Crane never acknowledged Greenberg as the original author of the appropriated lines. The connection was not documented until both men were already dead.

Most Crane scholars have maintained that Greenberg's effect on Crane's work may be seen only in "Emblems of Conduct" and in scattered lines in a few other poems. Within their analyses, however, there are sometimes suggestions that the influence may have been more extensive. John Unterecker, for example, in trying to downplay Greenberg's importance, ends up including him on a very selective list of influences:

Greenberg's work entered Crane's mind in much the same way that Eliot's, Stevens's, Donne's, Whitman's and Poe's had.*

Marc Simon has since argued that Greenberg's effect on Crane was actually quite lasting and substantial. He cites the presence of Greenberg-like words and images in a number of poems, including "Voyages II", "The Tunnel", "Atlantis", "Lachrymae Christi", "The Dance", "Ave Maria", and "Cape Hatteras". Simon asserts that Crane eventually came to "symbolically identify" with Greenberg, and that this identification "aided [Crane] in the construction of his White Buildings and The Bridge."

* from Voyager: A Life of Hart Crane (New York, 1969), page 336.
Quoted in Samuel Greenberg, Hart Crane, and the Lost Manuscripts

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The banner quote at the top of the page ("the poet seeks an earth in himself") is from Greenberg's poem "Fred".