Three Songs

> National Winter Garden

How significant is it here that Crane was gay? This poem tells a standard, heterosexual story (it takes place at a strip-tease theater)--might Crane have felt compelled to do so, instead of talking about, say, a gay bar?

(numbers refer to lines of the poem)

title: "National Winter Garden" was, according to Lewis, a famous strip-tease theater in New York (p. 343). It seems to have stood at 111-117 E. Houston Street in New York City (with 2nd Avenue as the cross street). There's a cool page about it here. The burlesque show that ran there was known as Minsky's Burlesque. Here is an image of the building from the NY Public Library:

4: cinch : "literally a saddle-belt; here presumably a g-string" (Lewis p. 344).

16: her sandstone grey between : believed by Lewis to refer to the dancer's pubis ("between" meaning "between her legs"--p. 344). Does this imply she has gray pubic hair, and so is old? Or perhaps it could refer to fabric, or a shadow.

24: We flee her spasm through a fleshless door : One interpretation might be that no patron ever leaves a strip club with a girl; one always goes home alone, in spite of one's fantasies. (Although "flee" doesn't really indicate leaving in disappointment.) Another is that this alludes to Crane's preoccupation throughout The Bridge with the humanity or inhumanity of technology. I also can't escape the image of post-coital withdrawal from the (presumably skinny) dancer (or an unspecified woman).

26: Magdalene : Mary Magdalene appears in the New Testament as a disciple of Jesus. She is known as a prostitute, but according to the Wikipedia article linked to above, she is never identified as such in the New Testament itself (the Wikipedia article claims that religion scholar Jeffrey Kripal believes that the suggestion that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute goes back to a sermon by Pope Gregory I from 591 CE). However, the connection to prostitution is surely at least one reason why she is mentioned here.

This page has been edited 11 times. The last modification was made by - MisterMartin MisterMartin on Mar 9, 2008 12:26 pm.