“And the sins of the fathers shall be”

“And the sins of the fathers shall be
visited upon the heads of the children,
even unto the third and fourth
generation of them that hate me.”

Well, then I hate thee, unrighteous picture;
Wicked image, I hate thee;
So, strike with thy vengeance
The heads of those little men
Who come blindly.
It will be a brave thing.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Stephen Crane's poem “And the sins of the fathers shall be”


  1. thinker says:

    jill w really makes a good point. Hey casey, you probabley dont know this, but the bible clearly states that God is a being who loves everyone, even those who dont love him. “how much one worships and pays
    tribute” has nothing to do with God’s love for us. Jesus was actually one of the first voices that spoke against that mindset. The pharisees (sp?) were the sanctimonious religious hot shots of cerca 0 A.D. Jesus, who’s common image is extremely inaccurate, was the one who called them hypocrites. Crane used the passage totally out of context, but present an idea that Jesus advocated himself. He wasn’t bashing God or even organized religion. He was stating a profound theological concept and theme found throughout the Bible.

  2. karen says:

    crane is telling the clergy of christendom, who teach that Jehovah is a God of retribution only, that they can go jump in a lake. I don’t blame him. But the scripture mustn’t be misunderstood. It is quoted from Deuteronomy 5:9. The context is a restating of the 10 commandments and the fact that we should not serve any gods except for Jehovah himself. The Mosaic Law itself is clear that only the guilty should be punished, and no one else, including the children of the accused. However, in this is talking about worship, and the Bible is clear, that after reaching an age of responsibility, each individual Israelite was judged on the basis of his own conduct and attitude. But when the nation of Israel turned to idolatry, it suffered the consequences of this for generations thereafter. Even the faithful Israelites felt its effects in that the nation’s religious delinquency made staying on a course of integrity difficult for them.
    But as I said before, Cristendom’s clergy teach lies about God, and thinking people like Crane here are moved to speak out against their hypocracy. But be sure to note that it is these so called Teachers and Leaders who are to blame for attitudes like Cranes, and not Jehovah or his Word.

  3. Nimal says:

    Is God stating a psychic law like a physical one such as: “if you leave your hand in a hot fire it will burn your skin and flesh through to the very bone ”
    Or, is God announcing His intension in an egotistical way; this is what Stephen Crane is referring to.
    See also the other poem “Think as I think,” said a man ” …better be a toad than a toady for such an unrighteous God!

  4. Casey says:

    This poem is excellent because it reveals the hypocracy inherent within the Bible and thus within religion; it reveals the extent to which God is unjust–his “love” based superficially upon how much one worships and pays tribute. A god who condemns man for using the free will He supposedly granted him (the ability to think for oneself and thus have the ability to chooses not to blindly follow) is an unjust god, a greedy god, and a lustful god who cares not for His creation, loves not all His children, but cares only for His own ego. I loved Crane’s poem!

  5. Jennifer P says:

    I do not think the scripture used in this poem is going against what the bible intended. I think Stepehn Crane intended to show that we do not learn from our mistakes and that we should do the best we can to not let history repeat itself.

  6. Elizabeth says:

    I do not like this poem to much because it starts with a Bible verse, and then the author says that he is going against it, like he WANTS his sin to carry on for generations!

  7. micheala says:

    i dont really like the poem couse i dont think thats what the bible or God intended for you to rescive read and prey and descide for your self is what i say.

  8. jill w says:

    although this poem begins in scripture (ie the bible) the author totally mis-represents the scpiptures message, by choosing to leave out the importatn bit – the second half of the promise “but my blessing shall remain on him who follows me, even to the thousanth generation” We have a choice – wrath or blessing. Choose blessing!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Do you have any comments, criticism, paraphrasis or analysis of this poem that you feel would assist other visitors in understanding the meaning or the theme of this poem by Stephen Crane better? If accepted, your analysis will be added to this page of American Poems. Together we can build a wealth of information, but it will take some discipline and determination.