God lay dead in heaven;
Angels sang the hymn of the end;
Purple winds went moaning,
Their wings drip-dripping
With blood
That fell upon the earth.
It, groaning thing,
Turned black and sank.
Then from the far caverns
Of dead sins
Came monsters, livid with desire.
They fought,
Wrangled over the world,
A morsel.
But of all sadness this was sad —
A woman’s arms tried to shield
The head of a sleeping man
From the jaws of the final beast.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Stephen Crane's poem God lay dead in heaven


  1. Ian Morris says:

    This author never ceases to astound me. What unique language, and imagery. His line are so thunderous, and personally I think that Stephen Crane is one of the most underrated poets. He was a prodigy who wasn’t taken seriously because of his age. Read the Red Badge of Courage-it’s sentences are magical. They have a tone that is unexplainable, much like his poems.

  2. Emily says:

    listen, all he Stephen was was an athiest, & i think that is so stupid, but his poems catch me in some way, it confuses me, because i’ve never felt this way about an athiest, more or less, an athiest poem.

  3. wesley says:

    Am I the only one who found an alliteration? It may be cliche, but Crane does make references to God quite frequently. I found that the woman is Mary and the boy Jesus, while the beast is the evils of mankind–ignorance, foolishness, “group mentality” (i.e. a person would not kill somebody but a group of people would). That was just something that immediately came to mind when I read it.

  4. Bobby Ray Diamond says:

    amid the existentialist mayhem, oblivious man’s only defense is nothing more powerful than the delicate and fragile arm of woman; illustrating the futility of mankind’s struggle against its demons and the ultimate inevitability of its annihilation.

    (mind you, if the woman happened to be butch enough, like them women pro-wrestlers or something, we might have more of a chance. Crane probably meant to suggest that most women could use some more gym time, work on those biceps a bit, general body tone etc. Well, that’s the positive spin I see in it…. )

  5. Deborah says:

    This poem warrants being read out loud, so it can be felt instead of thought about. To me, this poem speaks deeply and eloquently of despair and the resiliency of the soul trying to save whatever life is still intact in the face of desolation, fear and loss of faith.

  6. Elizabeth says:

    I think that it is saying that to the human race in a whole, God is basicaly dead. We are the beasts the come from the earth and we consume ourselves. We ask about a God, but we cant find onre because He is dead to us becasue we denied Him for so long. The woman symbolizes the hope of some people to try to protect the weak or vaunerable from our own ways.

  7. Jessica says:

    I believe this poem is talking about all the sin going on in the world, and God sending Jesus down to earth. That would explain the “pain” going on in heaven and the woman holding the man’s head in the end is Mary holding Jesus, trying to save him from the devil

  8. Ira II says:

    To simply second “KENT”‘s comments. Even more difficult to understand than the big words is, for some, to understand the meaning.

  9. Sarah says:

    I am writing an anaylsis on this poem and am having trouble figuring out what Crane is trying to communicate so if anyone would like to offer help I would really appriciate it!

  10. Kent says:

    This is in reference to the other comment posted for this poem. Um, dude, im not sure that you, with your obviously expansive vocabulary, have any real right to say how bad this author is. I think, perhaps, you didnt like the poem, cause there were too many big words and it “hurted” your head. Anywhoodles, keep up that scathing wit and subtle sarcasm that we all love so much.

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