If you happen to be a critic, it may come as a shock that not all readers share your opinions. Worse, they write letters to the editor demanding that you be punished for the sins of your reviews. Some magazines and newspapers allow the critic to reply; others feel that, having had his say, he has undoubtedly said more than enough. Why give the critic the last word?
In the case of Hart Crane, there can be no last word. His star has been up and down so often in the three-quarters of a century since his death, it seems unlikely that critic or reader will settle the matter soon. Crane was the great might-have-been of American verse—superbly talented, ambitious as a hammer blow, full of plans and postures and persuasions galore. Most poets have their admirers by the time they arrive at that final mausoleum, the poetry anthology; Crane is one of the few who has votaries and devotees (Sylvia Plath is another). Whatever his flaws, personal or poetic, they pale before what some see as his genius. If you don’t see the genius, all you have left are the flaws.
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