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Analysis and comments on In the desert by Stephen Crane

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Comment 17 of 827, added on June 5th, 2005 at 1:08 PM.

I encountered this poem when I was in my early 30s (I'm in my early 70s
now)at a time when my life situation had taken a sudden spiral downward
into despair resulting from multiple and almost simultaneous losses. From
that place of emptiness and confusion, I found in the metaphor courage,
hope, and strength to accept "what is", to rebuild, and to distinguish my
Life from my "life situation"......Bitter or sweet, it Is my heart, my
Life. And I like it!

Jo from United States
Comment 16 of 827, added on May 31st, 2005 at 7:48 PM.

firstly, ALL HAIL STEPHEN CRANE! secondly, my thoughts.
this poem has become the offical poem of the year in my english class. not
only has everyone memorized it, but is all too eager to perform their
dramatic interpretation. I don't think a single one of them has put any
thought to it's meaning.
Thanks to my lovely family, i have inherited the blessing of manic
depression, and now that i am reasonably sane, i can recognize perverted
thoughts and relate to this poem. When you have depression, you become so
comfortable with self-bashing and mutilation, that you actually would
rather stay there then put in the effort to drag yourself out. Some people
cant understand this mindset at all, but if you have depression you know
exactly what i, and this poem, are talking about.

Erin (from oregon) from United States
Comment 15 of 827, added on May 25th, 2005 at 12:59 PM.

it dont understand what it means! it seems pretty wierd to me. but i
wouldnt know anything about it.

LzH. from United States
Comment 14 of 827, added on May 10th, 2005 at 7:10 AM.

who knows

craven morhed from Morocco
Comment 13 of 827, added on May 9th, 2005 at 11:34 PM.

This poem is about self destruction or self sabotage. All of us will meet
people like this. I've worked with a few and perhaps even been one. The
character in the poem is naked and bestial because Crane is speaking of a
man stripped of showey civility. He is speaking to the raw man. The man is
destroying himself (by eating his heart) and when the passerby asks about
the taste the man admits that it is bitter, as self destruction really is.
But the man knows no other way. He is comfortable with chaos and
destruction in his life. It is all he has ever known. He knows that it is
bitter but likes it because it is all that he has to offer to the world and
to himself. It is who he is. He must force himself to like the taste of his
own destruction because to reject it would be admitting irrelavance or
invisibility in the world. He hates that more than the pain of self
destruction becuase rejection is what formed him. He has become self
destructive because he has been rejected. In real life this is the wife who
stays with the abusive husband. This is the teenager who steals bigger and
bigger things until he finally gets caught. In the corperate world this is
the man who causes discord with everyone around him until he finally gets
fired. They are comfortable with chaos and destruction and yet they hate it
and dream of success or freedom. They eat it though it is bitter and though
it means death.

Jason from United States
Comment 12 of 827, added on March 29th, 2005 at 1:29 PM.

I've worked with this poem quite a bit throughout the years for different
reasons, but I've never encountered this before: I have recently seen
copies of this poem under the title "The Heart". Results for this same poem
came up when I checked both titles online. Does anyone know what the story
behind this?

Jarod from United States
Comment 11 of 827, added on March 27th, 2005 at 12:05 PM.

in this poem, i think that Crane is trying to tell us that he has a bitter
heart and he is not willing to change that fact.if you have any comments to
add to this please write me!

laura from United States
Comment 10 of 827, added on February 7th, 2005 at 10:26 PM.

What Sartre called bad faith was caving to the desire to over-simplify
one's condition, and choose a radical self-destruction or
self-aggrandizement over living ordinarily and not letting it get to you.
In the Firesign Theatre a lieutenant in the sceond world war is appalled to
distraction, and starts saying he is going to go out and Kill kill kill --
hunbg on the word kill like a horrific ghost-- and a sergeant says, "Aw,
don't let it get to you, Lieutenant!" So When Crane asks "Is it good?" I
think he's suggesting that the guy makes his own desert and that eating his
heart is a self-obsessed form of morbid narcissisism. But I may be

James from Oklahoma from United States
Comment 9 of 827, added on January 31st, 2005 at 11:41 PM.

If a person doesn't want to change for themselves then they will never
change. A man with a bitter heart will sometimes find it very pleasant to
be who he is and to live how he lives. The poem "In the Desert" by Stephen
Crane compares a man's actions to what is in his heart. The man described
in the poem is drowning in isolation and misery. The man feels more like a
beast rather than an actual human. He considers himself to be friends with
the beast who lives in him. The speaker asks, "Is it good, friend?" and
answers himself using the other person that lives in his heart. The man
probably acts in a beastly manner and isn't someone that one would want to
meet in a dark alley somewhere. The man doesn't want to change who he is
because he can't help the way he feels about life. He knows that his heart
has grown bitter over time; however, he doesn't want to change his heart.
The man sits and dwells in self-pity for himself even though he doesn't
have to. He chooses ease instead of just doing something worthwhile in his
life. The man could develop a heart full of peace even though he feels it
is easier to accept the way he has grown to be. He is aware that he could
choose to change his heart; nevertheless, he doesn't want to. The man
replies, "It is bitter -- bitter-- / But I like it" (7-8). The man likes
who he is so much that he holds his heart in his hands and eats some of it
so that he can actually taste the bitterness in his heart. Stating why he
likes his heart, the man says, "Because it is bitter-- / And because it is
my heart" (9-10). He chooses to be content with the fact that he has a
bitter heart; then, he chooses to dwell in the dark place that his heart
has placed him in. The man feels that he has to settle with who he is;
otherwise, he wouldn't have anything left. He dwells in all of his emotions
that keep him in a dry, ancient place. The man represents many humans who
dwell in pity and choose to keep a bitter heart. He represents humans who
allow a bitter heart to consume them instead of allowing a bitter heart to
change into a peaceful heart to fulfill them. No one can change their
hearts unless they really want to change for themselves.

Andrea (from TN) from United States
Comment 8 of 827, added on January 21st, 2005 at 3:41 PM.

The creature is of course a miserable human being who feels like a beast,
perhaps acts like a beast and who has unquestionable been hurt badly in his

His heart is bitter... he is eating his heart out... he is alone and
feeding off the only thing he has left... his own misery and bitterness. He
revels in this in the dark way that we all do when we are reveling in our
own sadness or anger or depression.

It is a beautiful, wonderful poem

Melissa from United States

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Information about In the desert

Poet: Stephen Crane
Poem: 3. In the desert
Volume: The Black Riders & Other Lines
Year: 1905
Added: Jan 31 2004
Viewed: 1631 times
Poem of the Day: Jun 28 2000

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