18 pages 36 minutes read

Stephen Crane

A Man Said to the Universe

Fiction | Poem | Adult | Published in 1899

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I saw a man pursuing the horizon” by Stephen Crane (1895)

“I saw a man pursuing the horizon” is a poem from Crane’s first collection, The Black Riders and Other Lines. The poem has the same setup as “A man said to the universe” since both works center on a dialogue. In “I saw a man pursuing the horizon,” the dialogue is between a man and the speaker; the interaction comes after an image of a man speeding around the horizon. Each poem antagonizes the man. The universe counters the man in “A man said to the universe”; the speaker opposes the man in “I saw a man pursuing the horizon.” This poem, too, features a bleak tone and an unfavorable perspective of humankind. Both texts feature overly proud and confident men. They boast of their existence and think they can conquer or consume all that the world—“the horizon”—has to offer. “I saw a man pursuing the horizon” gives the man a chance to reply. It also gave critics of Crane’s singular poetry a chance to mock him. In 1895, The Buffalo Press published a parody of this poem, which Paul Auster includes in Burning Boy (276):