Episode of Hands (Hart Crane)

The unexpected interest made him flush.
Suddenly he seemed to forget the pain,-
Consented,-and held out
One finger from the others.

The gash was bleeding, and a shaft of sun
That glittered in and out among the wheels,
Fell lightly, warmly, down into the wound.

And as the fingers of the factory owner’s son,
That knew a grip for books and tennis
As well as one for iron and leather,-
As his taut, spare fingers wound the gauze
Around the thick bed of the wound,
His own hands seemed to him
Like wings of butterflies
Flickering in sunlight over summer fields.

The knots and notches,-many in the wide
Deep hand that lay in his,-seemed beautiful.
They were like the marks of wild ponies’ play,-
Bunches of new green breaking a hard turf.

And factory sounds and factory thoughts
Were banished from him by that larger, quieter hand
That lay in his with the sun upon it.
And as the bandage knot was tightened
The two men smiled into each other’s eyes.

Discussion Questions
1) The poem initially describes the encounter between these two men as an awkward one, yet after the wound is bound, they share a tender moment. Why might the factory owner “flush” with surprise or embarrassment upon meeting the factor owner’s son?
2) How does this poem challenge traditional views of masculinity?


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