If I should cast off this tattered coat

If I should cast off this tattered coat,
And go free into the mighty sky;
If I should find nothing there
But a vast blue,
Echoless, ignorant —
What then?

Analysis, meaning and summary of Stephen Crane's poem If I should cast off this tattered coat


  1. Thomas says:

    I agree with Kornelia…to a point. This poem is about the afterlife. But, unfortunately for Stephen Crane, and all those who reject Christian Theism,any absolute standard of right and wrong, or even God Himself,they have nothing to offer instead. Man himself becomes the measure of what is right, what is true, and eventually, what is out there, period. And, sadly enough, Crane discovers only emptiness and futility. With no absolute standards, Crane drifts down the corridor of infinite regress – to despair.

  2. Kornelia says:

    This poem explores the question of the afterlife. Crane asks what will happen if he sheds his “tattered coat” which could also be his human form, and ascends the skies to find that there is nothing, that there is no heaven and furthermore, no god–what will have been of his life, what will have been of all those who devoted their lives to a false diety on the promise that they would be rewarded when they died. Crane is suggesting here that life is wasted when we turn our thoughts to the afterlife and base the quality of our lives, the fulfillment of our greatest potential, on something as transient and unreliable as the promise of God, heaven, and an unreal afterlife. After all, according to the Christians, all other religions are wrong–so what will happen to the Buddhists, the Hindus, the Muslims, the Pagans, the athiests–where will they go when they cast of their tattered coats and ascend the skies.

  3. elizabeth says:

    i think this poem is saying how when you take a chance you never know what will happen. If the man in the poem decides to take off his coat and become a new man then what will happen, what if it dosent turn out the way you want, that is basically what he is asking.

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