18 pages 36 minutes read

Stephen Crane

A Man Said to the Universe

Fiction | Poem | Adult | Published in 1899

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Poem Analysis

Analysis: “A Man Said to the Universe”

Crane’s poem fits into many genres, including lyric, narrative, parable, and epigram. The poem qualifies as a lyric because lyric poems are short and express some of the beliefs and ideas of the poet. In his lyric, Crane communicates his idea about the relationship between humankind and the world. The poem could be a narrative since it tells a story about a man, the universe, and their interaction. As this story conveys a lesson about a person’s place in the world, the poem fits into the parable category as parables are simple stories that aim to teach the reader something about life. Finally, the poem meets the criteria for an epigram since it conveys a brief, surprising statement; it is possible to read it as an ironic quip about the universe and the role humans play in it.

The speaker’s role is not big in Crane’s poem. As the speaker comes across as an omniscient third-person narrator, the speaker could be anyone, so one can simply refer to the speaker as they/them. The main job of the speaker is to stay out of the way and only appear to help illustrate the story, or conversation, between the man and universe.