Stephen Crane was the last of 14 children born to a Methodist minister who died when he was nine. As a child he moved three times in the New York area. Crane never cared much for schooling, but he did attend Syracuse University – although only for one semester, and his most noteworthy accomplishments were performed on the baseball field. He lived the down-and-out life of a penniless artist who became well known as a poet, journalist, social critic and realist. His contemporaries noted him as being an “original” in his field of work.
War and other forms of physical and mental violence fascinate Crane. He began writing for newspapers in 1891 when he settled in New York where he developed his powers as an observer of psychological and social reality. After he wrote Red Badge of Courage, which earned Crane international acclaim at age 24, he was hired as a reporter in the American West and Mexico. At the age of 27, Crane moved to Jacksonville, Florida and got married. While in Jacksonville, his boat The Commodore sank off the coast and he wrote about the harrowing adventure in The New York Press. Crane covered the Greco-Turkish War and later settled in England where he made friends with famous writers of the time including H.G. Wells and Henry James. He later covered the Spanish-American War for Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World. During the last few years of his life, he began writing furiously because he was in debt and suffering from tuberculosis. He later died while he was in Germany.
The poetry Crane produced was published in War is Kind & Other Lines (1899) and posthumously in The Black Riders & Other Lines (1905). The poems from these two collections are all published below.