A Broken Tower, by Hart Crane, is a metaphor-rich poem that is very ambiguous but seems to describe the difficulties of the creative process and the way in which the artist is bound and compelled by it. Crane uses many religious metaphors and references, directly mentioning God and also bells, which are associated with churches. It is possible to interpret the poem in a religious sense, but it could be argued that religion and art are similar metaphors; that, for the poet, his writings are both a method of spiritual expression and a search for truth. The title, ÃÂA Broken TowerÃÂ, refers to a continuing metaphor in the poem and suggests the deconstruction of established paradigms which is necessary for artistic progress. Throughout the poem, Crane speaks of destroying a stone tower and building a new one from within himself; and as the poem progresses, the tone shifts from negative to positive.
The poem is simple stylistically and consists of ten quatrains with an abab rhyming pattern.
Crane begins the poem with one of the predominant metaphors, the bell. This also has religious significance, as it is associated with the call to prayer in the morning. However, CraneÃÂs bell does not call people to God but rather ÃÂgathers GodÃÂ. Also strange is the fact that the tone of the first stanza, though regarding dawn and God (traditionally positive), is quite negative. The poet is ÃÂdropped down the knell of a spent dayÃÂ and his ÃÂfeet chill on steps from hellÃÂ. This curious negativity shows CraneÃÂs rejection of the traditional, symbolised by established religion. Normally, to go ÃÂfrom pit to crucifixÃÂ would be positive as it symbolises moving towards God, but the poetÃÂs disdain for the traditional manifests itself in the decidedly negative tone of the first stanza.