I saw a man pursuing the horizon;
Round and round they sped.
I was disturbed at this;
I accosted the man.
“It is futile,” I said,
“You can never -”

“You lie,” he cried,
And ran on.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Stephen Crane's poem I saw a man pursuing the horizon


  1. Mo Thomas says:

    The horizon shifts, so the man must have reached it at some point in time but being unaware of this, kept on running. The protagonist who accosts him is equally limited in his assumption that the horizon is unreachable as he is himself at that moment in someone else’s horizon. They are both limited in their ability to analyse and reflect.

  2. Jerry john says:

    Probably he did reach the horizon. And he is in ecstacy and don’t want to return to the meddles in life.For reaching the horizon implies understanding the universe. Probably he knows that it is possible to reach the horizon and thus calls the observer a liar. He was just mad enough.

  3. John Simms says:

    This poem has been a favorite of mine for 50 years.
    I just completed a sculpture expressing the idea of pursuing the horizon. If you would like to see a picture of it, email me.

    • Dear, John, my late father drew the stick figure of a man running towards the sun sinking on the horizon as far back as I can remember. (As far back as 1968) yesterday I was reading through some letters he sent me prior to his death in the mid 1990’s. And there in one is his letters were the first few lines of Crane’s poem which I am embarrassed to say I was not aware of and all those years I never asked him. Why he did that. I can’t believe it.
      I would love to see a picture of your sculpture.
      Thaddeus P Russo

  4. Jeff says:

    Naturalism is by definition pessimistic. However, Stephen Crane’s poem “A Man Pursuing the Horizon”, which is an excellent example of naturalism, can be interpreted pessimistically or optimistically. To interpret it optimistically, the man does not give up hope of fulfilling his dream no matter what happens. Interpreting the poem pessimistically, the man is foolish for not recognizing that it is impossible to catch the horizon, and is therefore wasting his life. Trying to make a naturalistic poem optimistic could consequently be compared to chasing the horizon.

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