Crossing Brooklyn Ferry By Walt Whitman

1055 words - 4 pages

Through the use of simple diction, Whitman is able to traverse both time and distance and connect with his readers as so few other poets can. His mastery of verbiage draws readers into the poem, as few other poets can. In “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry,” Whitman creates a vignette into the Brooklyn of the past, and he connects it to the present, though in surprising ways. The omnipresence of Whitman allows the reader to envision themselves into the settings he created- and to interpret them into modern language. By creating a path through the cities of the past, Whitman connects with his readers in a fascinating and deeply personal way.
Whitman’s mastery of language and is apparent in the poem narrator’s ability to speak directly to those who will read his poetry, long after he has died. Whitman's obvious delight in nature is so great and awe inspiring that he is able to traverse time and share his experiences with those who will come long after him through use of imagery of landmarks he believed to stand the test of time. In 1849, Whitman pondered this in his poem “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry,” the durability of the Croton Reservoir, which is located at Forty-second Street and Fifth Avenue, when he describes the sight of a sunset over the water and the colors that the rays of light create. "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry" is divided into nine sections or “chapters”. The first five lines of the first “chapter” begin with an allusion to some of the physical phenomena Whitman has encountered such as the flood-tide, the clouds scene in the western sky, and the busy crowds scene on the ferry, and "you that shall cross from shore to shore years hence" (CITE). The brief opening stanza introduces the poem's main themes of the natural wonder of the harbor, which includes the "hundreds and hundreds" of passengers "that cross, returning home" (CITE), and the narrator’s assertion of creating a symbolic “bridge” which connects him to any future readers he foresees.
After establishing the omnipresence of the poem, Whitman addresses those readers in the future by beginning with the declaration that "It avails not, time nor place—distance avails not" (CITE), thus stating that "I (Whitman) am with you" (CITE). Whitman connects his sights to those of the future by stating that future people will experience, he has already seen "Just as you . . ." or "I too," which reinforces the omnipresent and boundless power of nature to connect all time and space together (CITE).
Whitman relishes the joy and sheer pleasure of being connected to something much greater than himself. He does not fear the inevitable death he must face because he knows he will experience the future, though through the eyes of those yet to be born. He is able to find comfort in "Others [who feel] the same—others who look back on me because I look'd forward to them" (CITE). There is no finality in death because he, like his readers, will continue to live long after they are...

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