Behold, the grave of a wicked man,
And near it, a stern spirit.

There came a drooping maid with violets,
But the spirit grasped her arm.
“No flowers for him,” he said.
The maid wept:
“Ah, I loved him.”
But the spirit, grim and frowning:
“No flowers for him.”

Now, this is it —
If the spirit was just,
Why did the maid weep?

Analysis, meaning and summary of Stephen Crane's poem Behold, the grave of a wicked man


  1. Philip says:

    The point of this poem is simple: No matter how evil a person may be, he/she has, in the deepest part of themselves, something loveable, and genuinely worthy of love. The spirit denies that. “evil is evil”
    but the truth is that everyone has good in them and almost everyone has, in their lives, someone who can see that Good, and mourn it…
    Think of someone you detest, and ask yourself, honestly, if perhaps they have some good in them…

  2. Nimal says:

    There is more to a meaningful life than ‘justice’. Whatever that is, that thing beyond our judgements of right and wrong, that is real justice. Besides, IF anyone (sane), even one, could weep for someone…

  3. MLee says:

    The key is in the last two lines ‘if the spirit is just, why did the maiden weep’

    It is a comment on society and religion and our notions of what we beleive should happen to someone that is ‘wicked’ As a society we seek to punish those who do something we consider wrong (theft, murder, etc.) and fail to see them as more than a sum of their actions. We are in such a tizzy to eliminate such things that we don’t see them as having lives, families, or motivations for their actions. In the poem a woman comes to mourn for the man she lost – but society does not allow that becuase he is a ‘wicked man’ and those no one cares for him. Crane is asking if removing someone so far from emotions and their family is a just thing and asking us to consider all sides of an individual. Heck, even hitler had parents – don’t we give him more power by villianizing him rather than showing him as an extremely flawed human being?

  4. Elizabeth says:

    i think it means the us as humans still love the people that are not totally worth our affection. I’m not saying that people should not be loved, but that some people go over the limit and should not be loved for who they are, but maybe who they were or who they could be. The maid is weeping because she loved this man, even though he was not a good person. To love is to greive, and that is what she did, even though it hurt. The spirit might be the people that try to tell her that she shouldnt be sad, and that she should let it go. Telling her that he dosent deserve it. Human love carries on if it is pure, even if it is not always double sided. This poem is a good poem. Thats what i think. (smile)

  5. Zack says:

    So any one have any views on this one? Iam still struggling to find a meaning.

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