US poet who wrote some of the most highly acclaimed American poetry of the twentieth century.
Born in Garrettsville, Ohio, Crane had an unhappy childhood, which culminated in his parents' divorce when he was seventeen. He then had a wide variety of jobs in New York and Cleveland, finally settling in New York in 1923, as his poetry began to be accepted for publication. In this period his active homosexuality, and the difficulty he had in coming to terms with it, led to the bouts of alcoholism and depression that ended with his suicide at the age of thirty-three.
His first published collection of poems, White Buildings (1926), reflected his enthusiasm for city life and attracted considerable attention. In some respects it also reflected the influence of T. S. Eliot, although his poetry is less pessimistic than Eliot's. The Bridge (1930), his best-known work, is an epic poem in which he sought to link a dreamlike perception of the past with modern industrial reality, using Brooklyn Bridge as the central symbol. The poem was well received and on the strength of this reception Crane was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, which he decided to spend in Mexico City, planning to write another epic on a Mexican theme. This never materialized, although he did write another poem, ‘The Broken Tower’ (1932), in Mexico. On the way back to New York by sea he jumped from the ship into the Caribbean and was drowned. The Complete Poems and Selected Letters and Prose was published in 1966.