Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Phillip Sipiora, Ph.D.


French symbolism, Symbolist poetry, Modern poetry, Influence, Metaphor


The largest impediment to appreciating Hart Crane as a symbolist modern American poet derives from the fragmentary critical attention paid to his borrowings from and familiarity with French Symbolists like Charles Baudelaire, Arthur Rimbaud, and Stéphane Mallarmé. Almost equally important, the early career of T. S. Eliot exerted a profound impact on Crane's poetic development and indeed served as the primary introduction to many nineteenth-century French poets for Crane and many other American poets of his generation. This dissertation initially examines contemporary critical definitions of the symbolist method and explores the extent to which Hart Crane's familiarity with the French language helped shape his exposure to writers such as Baudelaire, Rimbaud, and Mallarmé. A reading of Crane's "Black Tambourine," a self-professed "Baudelairesque thing," indicates the dissertation's general approach by showing how Crane's poems evolve as "mingling incantations," as artistic blendings interfused by the aesthetics of the major French Symbolist poets. After presenting a historical overview and critique of the critical reception given to Crane as a symbolist, the rest of the dissertation interrogates the relationship of Crane to Eliot and their views on literary influence; examines the connections between Crane, Baudelaire, and Rimbaud; and finally explores the theoretical affinities between Mallarmé and Crane's formulation of a neo-symbolist poetics.