Walt Whitman’s Poetry

When reading the poem “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” by Walt Whitman it was stanza three that really grasped my attention. His words choice to me gives the stanza a very visual view. While I can understand it literally as well, visually is how I am remembering it and feeling it. Here is stanza three from his poem.

“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.” (Whitman, 1)

The reason this stanza really takes hold for me is because it reminds me a lot of my grandmother’s journey to the United States from The Netherlands. She used to tell me stories of her journey here and how it felt to arrive in New York City in the cold winter months. How when she arrived she knew no one, had barely any money, no place to live and no job. Whitman’s poem really gives me a visual for the people who made the journey to the United States. He talks about the generations that are traveling, the crowds and as they gaze out onto the open water they can see many ships and steamboats. I can imagine what this would look like and the expression on the immigrants faces. He also shares how he is with them, he has made this journey and he knows what it’s like to come to a new place.

I think what I would love to see is a version of this poem that would relate more to the 21st century. I feel the meaning and the feelings I get from this poem would drastically change.

Whitman, Walt. “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry by Walt Whitman – Poetry Foundation.” Poetry Foundation. Poetry Foundation, n.d. Web. 12 Sept. 2016.

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