from GENERAL AIMS AND THEORIES
It may not be possible to say that
there is, strictly speaking, any "absolute" experience. But it seems evident
that certain aesthetic experience (and this may for a time engross the
total faculties of the spectator) can be called absolute, inasmuch as it
approximates a formally convincing statement of a conception or apprehension
of life that gains our unquestioning assent, and under the conditions of
which our imagination is unable to suggest a further detail consistent
with the design of the aesthetic whole.
I have been called an "absolutist" in poetry, and if I am to welcome such a label it should be under the terms of the above definition. It is really only a modus operandi, however, and as such has been used organically before by at least a dozen poets such as Donne, Blake, Baudelaire, Rimbaud, etc. I may succeed in defining it better by contrasting it with the impressionistic method. The impressionist is interesting as far as he goes––but his goal has been reached when he has succeeded in projecting certain selected factual details into his reader’s consciousness. He is really not interested in the causes (metaphysical) and his materials, their emotional derivations or their utmost spiritual consequences. A kind of retinal registration is enough, along with a certain psychological stimulation. And this is also true of your realist (of the Zola type), and to a certain extent of the classicist, like Horace, Ovid, Pope, etc. . . .
It is my hope to go through the combined materials of the poem, using our "real" world somewhat as a spring-board, and to give the poem as a whole an orbit or predetermined direction of its own. I would like to establish it as free from my own personality as from any chance evaluation on the reader’s part. (This is, of course, an impossibility, but it is a characteristic worth mentioning.) Such a poem is at least a stab at a truth, and to such an extent may be differentiated from other kinds of poetry and called "absolute." It evocation will not be toward decoration or amusement, but rather toward a state of consciousness, and "innocence" (Blake) or absolute beauty. In this condition there may be discoverable under new forms certain spiritual illuminations, shining with a morality essentialized from experience directly, and not from previous precepts or preconceptions. It is as though a poem gave the reader as he left it a singe, new word, never before spoken and impossible to actually enunciate, but self-evident as an active principle in the reader’s consciousness henceforward.
Hart Crane "General Aims and Theories," from The Compelete Poems and Selected Letters and Prose of Hart Crane, copyright © 1933, 1958, 1966 by the Liveright Publishing Corporation.