A man went before a strange God —
The God of many men, sadly wise.
And the deity thundered loudly,
Fat with rage, and puffing.
“Kneel, mortal, and cringe
And grovel and do homage
To My Particularly Sublime Majesty.”

The man fled.

Then the man went to another God —
The God of his inner thoughts.
And this one looked at him
With soft eyes
Lit with infinite comprehension,
And said, “My poor child!”

Analysis, meaning and summary of Stephen Crane's poem A man went before a strange God


  1. Stephanie says:

    This poem is contrasting religion and spirituality. Crane feels the Church has formed God into a poweful, almighty diety to be feared. Crane himself is able to see God past the accusations of the Church in His true form. This is a wonderful poem that can be related to by anyone questioning their beliefs.

  2. Brad says:

    I agree with Jerimiah below. Crane has obviously rejected God from past experiences with church and things like that. The first God he goes to is supposed to be the true “God” and Crane depicts him as a hateful ruler. The second God he goes to is his own mind, the one that organizes right from wrong according to his own judgements.

  3. Jeremiah says:

    No I can not agree with any of you. The poem is indicating the modern man’s situation when he has left God and turned to “gods” — and “gods” can be anything, most likely your ego; even though they are not God, but rather idols, and do not crave anything (like perfection; sinlessness) of you. The “gods”/idols think that God has treated you hard, and that is what the final line is saying. Too bad that Crane did not show us any solution, which is God’s gospel, the story about the Son; Jesus. Theese small poems are effective when they try to say anything about earthtly life in general (like war or striving for happieness), but when Crane comes to the subject of religion and tries to speak about God, it is obvious that he rejects God, because God does have a solution to man-kind, God is merciful and has forgiven all sins. Too bad that many people doesn’t believe this.

  4. yousuf says:

    this poem basically means that society’s laws force a man to become filled with fear, and in doing so, the man is left to a false internal motivation which as mentioned, is false, and yet warm to the person in mind. Truly, anyone put into fear by the authority of not only religion, but authority in general can relate to this poem and crane did a phenomenal job describing the act of regressing into oneself to find courage.

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