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Crossing Brooklyn Ferry Analysis

Author: poem of Walt Whitman Type: poem Views: 93

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Flood-Tide below me! I see you face to face!

Clouds of the west-sun there half an hour high - I see you also face

   to face.

Crowds of men and women attired in the usual costumes, how curious

   you are to me!

On the ferry-boats the hundreds and hundreds that cross, returning

   home, are more curious to me than you suppose,

And you that shall cross from shore to shore years hence are more

   to me, and more in my meditations, than you might suppose.


The impalpable sustenance of me from all things at all hours of the


The simple, compact, well-join'd scheme, myself disintegrated, every

   one disintegrated yet part of the scheme,

The similitudes of the past and those of the future,

The glories strung like beads on my smallest sights and hearings, on

   the walk in the street and the passage over the river,

The current rushing so swiftly and swimming with me far away,

The others that are to follow me, the ties between me and them,

The certainty of others, the life, love, sight, hearing of others.

Others will enter the gates of the ferry and cross from shore to


Others will watch the run of the flood-tide,

Others will see the shipping of Manhattan north and west, and the

   heights of Brooklyn to the south and east,

Others will see the islands large and small;

Fifty years hence, others will see them as they cross, the sun half

   an hour high,

A hundred years hence, or ever so many hundred years hence, others

   will see them,

Will enjoy the sunset, the pouring-in of the flood-tide, the

   falling-back to the sea of the ebb-tide.


It avails not, time nor place- distance avails not,

I am with you, you men and women of a generation, or ever so many

   generations hence,

Just as you feel when you look on the river and sky, so I felt,

Just as any of you is one of a living crowd, I was one of a crowd,

Just as you are refresh'd by the gladness of the river and the

   bright flow, I was refresh'd,

Just as you stand and lean on the rail, yet hurry with the swift

   current, I stood yet was hurried,

Just as you look on the numberless masts of ships and the

   thick-stemm'd pipes of steamboats, I look'd.

I too many and many a time cross'd the river of old,

Watched the Twelfth-month sea-gulls, saw them high in the air

   floating with motionless wings, oscillating their bodies,

Saw how the glistening yellow lit up parts of their bodies and left

   the rest in strong shadow,

Saw the slow-wheeling circles and the gradual edging toward the


Saw the reflection of the summer sky in the water,

Had my eyes dazzled by the shimmering track of beams,

Look'd at the fine centrifugal spokes of light round the shape of my

   head in the sunlit water,

Look'd on the haze on the hills southward and south-westward,

Look'd on the vapor as it flew in fleeces tinged with violet,

Look'd toward the lower bay to notice the vessels arriving,

Saw their approach, saw aboard those that were near me,

Saw the white sails of schooners and sloops, saw the ships at


The sailors at work in the rigging or out astride the spars,

The round masts, the swinging motion of the hulls, the slender

   serpentine pennants,

The large and small steamers in motion, the pilots in their


The white wake left by the passage, the quick tremulous whirl of the


The flags of all nations, the falling of them at sunset,

The scallop-edged waves in the twilight, the ladled cups, the

   frolic-some crests and glistening,

The stretch afar growing dimmer and dimmer, the gray walls of the

   granite storehouses by the docks,

On the river the shadowy group, the big steam-tug closely flank'd on

   each side by the barges, the hay-boat, the belated lighter,

On the neighboring shore the fires from the foundry chimneys burning

   high and glaringly into the night,

Casting their flicker of black contrasted with wild red and yellow

   light over the tops of houses, and down into the clefts of



These and all else were to me the same as they are to you,

I loved well those cities, loved well the stately and rapid river,

The men and women I saw were all near to me,

Others the same-others who look back on me because I look'd forward

   to them,

(The time will come, though I stop here to-day and to-night.)


What is it then between us?

What is the count of the scores or hundreds of years between us?

Whatever it is, it avails not- distance avails not, and place avails


I too lived, Brooklyn of ample hills was mine,

I too walk'd the streets of Manhattan island, and bathed in the

   waters around it,

I too felt the curious abrupt questionings stir within me,

In the day among crowds of people sometimes they came upon me,

In my walks home late at night or as I lay in my bed they came upon


I too had been struck from the float forever held in solution,

I too had receiv'd identity by my body,

That I was I knew was of my body, and what I should be I knew I

   should be of my body.


It is not upon you alone the dark patches fall,

The dark threw its patches down upon me also,

The best I had done seem'd to me blank and suspicious,

My great thoughts as I supposed them, were they not in reality


Nor is it you alone who know what it is to be evil,

I am he who knew what it was to be evil,

I too knitted the old knot of contrariety,

Blabb'd, blush'd, resented, lied, stole, grudg'd,

Had guile, anger, lust, hot wishes I dared not speak,

Was wayward, vain, greedy, shallow, sly, cowardly, malignant,

The wolf, the snake, the hog, not wanting in me.

The cheating look, the frivolous word, the adulterous wish, not


Refusals, hates, postponements, meanness, laziness, none of these


Was one with the rest, the days and haps of the rest,

Was call'd by my nighest name by clear loud voices of young men as

   they saw me approaching or passing,

Felt their arms on my neck as I stood, or the negligent leaning of

   their flesh against me as I sat,

Saw many I loved in the street or ferry-boat or public assembly, yet

   never told them a word,

Lived the same life with the rest, the same old laughing, gnawing,


Play'd the part that still looks back on the actor or actress,

The same old role, the role that is what we make it, as great as we


Or as small as we like, or both great and small.


Closer yet I approach you,

What thought you have of me now, I had as much of you- I laid in my

   stores in advance,

I consider'd long and seriously of you before you were born.

Who was to know what should come home to me?

Who knows but I am enjoying this?

Who knows, for all the distance, but I am as good as looking at you

   now, for all you cannot see me?


Ah, what can ever be more stately and admirable to me than

   mast-hemm'd Manhattan?

River and sunset and scallop-edg'd waves of flood-tide?

The sea-gulls oscillating their bodies, the hay-boat in the

   twilight, and the belated lighter?

What gods can exceed these that clasp me by the hand, and with

   voices I love call me promptly and loudly by my nighest name as


What is more subtle than this which ties me to the woman or man that

   looks in my face?

Which fuses me into you now, and pours my meaning into you?

We understand then do we not?

What I promis'd without mentioning it, have you not accepted?

What the study could not teach-what the preaching could not

   accomplish is accomplish'd, is it not?


Flow on, river! flow with the flood-tide, and ebb with the ebb-tide!

Frolic on, crested and scallop-edg'd waves!

Gorgeous clouds of the sunset! drench with your splendor me, or the

   men and women generations after me!

Cross from shore to shore, countless crowds of passengers!

Stand up, tall masts of Mannahatta! stand up, beautiful hills of


Throb, baffled and curious brain! throw out questions and answers!

Suspend here and everywhere, eternal float of solution!

Gaze, loving and thirsting eyes, in the house or street or public


Sound out, voices of young men! loudly and musically call me by my

   nighest name!

Live, old life! play the part that looks back on the actor or


Play the old role, the role that is great or small according as one

   makes it!

Consider, you who peruse me, whether I may not in unknown ways be

   looking upon you;

Be firm, rail over the river, to support those who lean idly, yet

   haste with the hasting current;

Fly on, sea-birds! fly sideways, or wheel in large circles high in

   the air;

Receive the summer sky, you water, and faithfully hold it till all

   downcast eyes have time to take it from you!

Diverge, fine spokes of light, from the shape of my head, or any

   one's head, in the sunlit water!

Come on, ships from the lower bay! pass up or down, white-sail'd

   schooners, sloops, lighters!

Flaunt away, flags of all nations! be duly lower'd at sunset!

Burn high your fires, foundry chimneys! cast black shadows at

   nightfall! cast red and yellow light over the tops of the houses!

Appearances, now or henceforth, indicate what you are,

You necessary film, continue to envelop the soul,

About my body for me, and your body for you, be hung our divinest


Thrive, cities-bring your freight, bring your shows, ample and

   sufficient rivers,

Expand, being than which none else is perhaps more spiritual,

Keep your places, objects than which none else is more lasting.

You have waited, you always wait, you dumb, beautiful ministers,

We receive you with free sense at last, and are insatiate


Not you any more shall be able to foil us, or withhold yourselves

   from us,

We use you, and do not cast you aside-we plant you permanently

   within us,

We fathom you not- we love you- there is perfection in you also,

You furnish your parts toward eternity,

Great or small, you furnish your parts toward the soul.


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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||

.: :.

Absolutely first rate and coomer-bottpped, gentlemen!

| Posted on 2013-11-16 | by a guest

.: :.

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| Posted on 2013-11-14 | by a guest

.: :.

Posts like this make the inertnet such a treasure trove

| Posted on 2013-11-13 | by a guest

.: :.

I really like your poems Monica and algthuoh you say that this one is a work in progress you were right to add it here, we as humans should always consider what we use and how we use it, even those ridiculous plastic holders that cover cans of lager and beer should be individually pulled apart before discarding them into our dustbins as a bird could quite easily become entangled within it, and the many other differing aspects of our everyday lives has a consequence on our wild animals if we do not think carefully about how and where we dispose of our waste Dolphins, Whales, Sharks and other mammals getting caught in fishing nets, nets that are cast into the sea without a second thought, other disgraceful happenings around the globe such as oil spillages and careless usage of our many, many other daily products, many with such devastating results against our wildlife One only has to think before acting Yes, indeed a very good poem my wicked friend Androgoth XXx

| Posted on 2013-11-12 | by a guest

.: Walt Whitman, style. :.

n “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry”, Whitman used a very modern (at the time) poetic style, stepping away from traditional poetic forms and allowing his poems to have new rythem, something that took his readers by surprise at the time. That’s what intrigued me about Whitman’s poem, and made me interested in doing this writing assignment on “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry”. The poem shows several formal features which we discussed in class. Whitman uses apostrophe in “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry”, by addressings things he describes (water, the buildings, etc.) in the poem, as people. Somehow Whitman does this without throwing the reader off as to who he’s talking to in the poem (us, the readers). In lines 2-5, Whitman uses “you” when referring to people who he’s watching, us as the readers, and future readers. His poetic style and grace with words makes all of his meanings for “you” seem obvious. The poem also has many rhetorical questions, helping the reader to understand what Whitman means throughout his poem. Whitman also writes in first person which is personally ideal for me, as a reader, because it’s much more ejoyable and easier to read and comprehend. -Maggie Conway

| Posted on 2008-02-23 | by a guest

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