The Broken Tower
In a short, wild, and mostly unhappy life, Harold Hart Crane (1899-1932) became --- Hart Crane --- a major figure in 20th century American poetry whose reputation has grown with time. His life became the stuff of legend. Hart Crane left an unhappy home at the age of 17 to live in New York City and follow his dream to become a poet. Without any formal education-- he did not finish high school-- he used his inborn gifts and wide reading to quickly become important to New York's literary culture and community. Crane's life was one of excess. From late adolescence, Crane drank heavily. He spent a great deal of time in underworld sex picking up sailors in the harbors of New York, all the while trying to conceal his sexual identity from his parents. Towards the end of his life, his behavior grew increasingly violent and self-destructive. He was jailed on several occasions in New York, Paris, and Mexico. Near the end, he did have what seems to be his only heterosexual relationship with Peggy Cowley, the divorced wife of the critic and publisher, Malcolm Cowley. Crane committed suicide when he returned with Peggy Cowley from Mexico in 1932 by jumping off the deck of a ship. He was 32.