It is Stephen Crane's birthday. In addition to "The Red Badge of Courage," "The Open Boat," and other superb prose, he wrote poems of terse irony, marvelous enigmatic parables set in bare ruined landscapes. Here is "In the Desert" (1895). Once read, never to be frogotten:
In the desert
I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
Who, squatting upon the ground,
Held his heart in his hands,
And ate of it.
I said, "Is it good, friend?"
"It is bitter -- bitter," he answered;
"But I like it
Because it is bitter,
And because it is my heart."
Joyce Carol Oates liked the last two lines so much she used them as the title for one of her novels.
Also born today: Fernando Valenzuela. -- DL