Because It Is Bitter…

The following poem by Stephen Crane is short and cryptic. But it sticks in one’s craw. And the last two lines were taken by Joyce Carol Oates as a title for one of her novels.

In the Desert

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.”