There was, before me,
Mile upon mile
Of snow, ice, burning sand.
And yet I could look beyond all this,
To a place of infinite beauty;
And I could see the loveliness of her
Who walked in the shade of the trees.
When I gazed,
All was lost
But this place of beauty and her.
When I gazed,
And in my gazing, desired,
Then came again
Mile upon mile,
Of snow, ice, burning sand.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Stephen Crane's poem There was, before me


  1. Peter C. Langella says:

    This poem is similar to “There was set before me a mighty hill”, but centered on a woman’s beauty, rather than a paradise–both being really the same. Life is strife, and moments of beauty so fleeting.

  2. Susie says:

    He illustrates how the sweetest things in life never last long enough to completely have them.

  3. Kevin says:

    Crane is speaking of knowing the good beyond the dreaful things for he is pure and unwanting and so appreciates the good, whether this be an attraction to a woman or other. However, it seems as soon as he desires these things and becomes selfish with wanting them he has so lost his pure nature. And his acceptance with his life becomes a life he finds unacceptable.

  4. Lily says:

    Despite what lies before us in ways of trials, it is possible, as well as necessary, to look past it all and remember what it is we’re fighting for or working towards.

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