There was a man who lived a life of fire

There was a man who lived a life of fire.
Even upon the fabric of time,
Where purple becomes orange
And orange purple,
This life glowed,
A dire red stain, indelible;
Yet when he was dead,
He saw that he had not lived.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Stephen Crane's poem There was a man who lived a life of fire


  1. Peter C. Langella says:

    “Where is the life I have lost in living?” –T.S. Eliot

  2. Stephanie H says:

    My initial take away was that even the remarkable can be forgotten. But on second thought, I think it’s more likely Crane is saying that even those who are historically remarkable, those that burn their stories into “the fabric of time,” could look back on their own lives and see that they’d missed opportunities or sacrificed experiences unnecessarily. Somebody that’s lived an unusually abstemious life, however successful, might look back and realize that they’d missed out on some of the more animal joys of life.

    I’m also noticing that the connotations of “fire,” “dire,” and “indelible” aren’t necessarily positive. Nero, for example, quite literally lived “a life of fire” when he set fire to Rome. The poem could refer to regrets surrounding those sorts of actions.

  3. Anthony Splendora says:

    “There lived a man who lived a life of fire” is
    No. 62 in “The Black Riders and Other Lines,” published in 1893.

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