You tell me this is God?
I tell you this is a printed list,
A burning candle, and an ass.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Stephen Crane's poem You tell me this is God?


  1. Haley says:

    When I read this poem, I get the sense that the “printed list” is referring to the actual poem, or to poems in general. You get the image of a poem written by candlelight and someone thinking that they are writing, you know, the best poem ever, a poem that is their god or something, and the reader tends to place too much importance or godliness on the poem. They accept the poem automatically as the truth. And so Crane says no, this poem is not God, it is just a list written by me, an ass, a simple guy who is not holy or special or important. So to me it seemed like an exasperated but humble sort of poem.

  2. Rick says:

    I think without the prose “Crane” would have written,
    I tell you this is just a grocery list, a night light not the True Light, and aimless rhetoric from the pulpit. I have the thought that this is a specific place in time that “Crane” experienced.

  3. Shakespeare Williams says:

    just whom is crane calling an ass? godders or god? both, since they are indivisible. it is the stupidity of the concept of gods that he ridicules

  4. Zach says:

    I do agree that this isn’t one of his best poems but i like it and how it’s very straightforward, at least to me anyway. It seems that Crane isn’t attacking God’s existence but rather is directly attacking the christian church or any organized religion really. he’s saying that the bible, or any other text, isn’t important and neither is lighting ceremonial candles representing the light of Christ or of God, and the leaders of the church services are just asses for doing it and believing it all. Crane’s just trying to get across his idea that God isn’t found through any of that.

  5. d.k. says:

    I think Crane is saying that sometimes people put things before God and therefore make those things their gods. Money, power, sex are all examples. Anything that you put above God is in direct violation of the commandment “thou shalt have no other gods before Me” and therefore a sin.

  6. squarecircle says:

    I agree with Freddie, it seemed pretty obvious that the “printed text” is the Bible. Crane is, I believe, making a mockery of the circular logic employed by Christians.

  7. TMURDA says:

    kent…i must approached that like a complete dunce. Don’t speak about something you don’t know about (which I am sad to hear)…I’m sorry for those who don’t experience the greatness of God, because He is awesome!

  8. FreddieNDB says:

    Well my interpretation on this poem is that Crane was not referencing God, but rather the bible. My thoughts on it are that the printed list is the actual text of the bible, a burning candle is the time spent writing the work (under a candle), and the ass is well the Gospels.

  9. Elizabeth says:

    umm….Kent, i didnt like the poem to much either, but i really dont like the way you acknoledged God like that, if you even read the Bible, you would know that they never had SEX, He just made it happen, so dont criticise if you dont know the facts of what you are criticising.

  10. Andrew says:

    I dont think crane was tryin to say there is no god. Dont get me wrong i totally believe in god but i think what hes trying to say is that people get to caught up in the fact god is everywhere. which i always learned he is and i belive it. but people come up with ideas like a sign from him is on this tree or i saw him in my soup. i mean cmon he just trying to say that people are tellin him look heres god when truly all its is a candle or a list. Atleast thats my idea on this poem take it or leave it.

  11. Kent says:

    Although not one of Crane’s best poems, i have heard far worse. Also, um, well…he’s kind of really dead, so the whole insistance of gods eternal love and forgivness, i think, mayhaps that ship has sailed. Seriously though, nothing against christianity, but it is a bit of a rediculous statement to say that you know god exists, as though you could show me some undeniable tangible proof (which, by the way, if you have i would be most curious to see it), you no more know that god exists than i know that he doesnt. Neither of us will ever be able to prove the other one wrong, not until we die anyways, and, if i end up burning for all of eternity you have my permission to say “i told you so” and then point and laugh, cause, really, ill have bigger fish to fry at that point. Last thing, i really really love the typo, or im assuming it was a typo. The fact that god sent is only Sin to save us, thats tight, cause supposedly he cant sin n’ stuff. So, did he like, um…knock Marry up, they did a little horizontal mombo. Are you saying that god had premarital sex with a “virgin” that belonged to another man, cause if you are, that would be awesome.

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