Walt Whitman “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry”

Erica Taylor

Professor M. Konkol

English 346

September 6th, 2016

Walt Whitman “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry”

Walt Whitman’s verse and the descriptive forms within his poetry are first, notedly admirable. I find that when I read his poems I get this visual personification for all of the words on the page because it is clear that they have an in-depth meaning and relationship with one another. Also, within Whitman’s poetry, you can feel a sense of relatability. In the line, “Crowds of men and women attired in the usual costumes, how curious you are to me” (1), I am immediately sent back to high school and can visualize myself being on this ferry as a child intrigued with everyone’s attire. Necessary to mention, how he suggests the people’s clothing are their costumes ultimately suggests that their current outward personas are something that can be changed, and if it can be changed does that then mean they are not truly showing who they are? As a child growing up in New York riding the from Brooklyn to my Manhattan daycare located in the twin towers, if there is one thing that I recall is the multiple different personalities and walks of life that everyone appeared to be from, but how everyone in that very moment sharing the same ride are synchronously combined, yet at the same time not even aware of one another. In New York City, there is no time to stop, there is no time to wait, there is no time to smell any roses that seldom grow anywhere naturally, and as a child, the big people with their different faces do appear to be wearing costumes. So, as a reader of this poem, from New York City, this line speaks to me because I can relate to Whitman, and how curious these people are and how nothing seems to bother them or push them in either direction. They are firm and settled and one would not comprehend their ability to move until the end of the ride when everyone walks off. Whitman continues, “And you that shall cross from shore to shore years hence are more to me, and more in my meditations, than you might suppose.” (1), and allows us to enter into his contemplations where even after he exits the ride he continues to relive the moment; we can even go as far to say even after his death. I now understand from this verse that Whitman’s view of the world is all encompassing. It is possibly showing him taking a few steps higher on the spiritual ladder and this is where I sense his attempt at becoming omnipotent by mentioning how those who cross from shore to shore within the duration of multiple years are still in his mental. It could also only be him overly conceptualizing the experience of riding the ferry, so in this case, its how full or empty the glass of water is that you are holding. Nevertheless, because I can understand that Whitman cannot be in the same place or time period when these people are crossing back and forth I personally am swayed towards the idea that it is then his metaphorical notions for the unforgettable experience of crossing from Brooklyn to Manhattan via ferry. So even in later years, when he may be far from any ferry his experience, feelings, and emotions are unchanged; they are still as strong as the time he rode the ferry in New York City when it enters his thoughts.


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