VOYAGER: A LIFE OF HART CRANE by John Unterecker. 787 pages. Farrar, Straus & Giroux. $15.
"A rip-tooth of the sky's acetylene."
Thus Hart Crane in "To Brooklyn Bridge" describes the noon light biting into Wall Street. As a poet, Crane sought "surrender to the sensations of urban life." Out of such sensations, he said, he hoped to forge "a mystical synthesis of America," for which (he told his perplexed patron, Otto Kahn) "one might take the Sistine Chapel as an analogy."
He knew his Whitman "like a book," Robert Lowell has written, but Whitman...