Essay about Crossing Brooklyn Ferry by Walt Whitman

Essay about Crossing Brooklyn Ferry by Walt Whitman

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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 ...


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...man beseeches the multitudes of natural phenomena he already mentioned—the tide and waves, clouds, current and future ferry patrons, masts of Manhattan and hills of Brooklyn, the ships, and the sea birds to continue doing what they do best, their natural activities. This recapitulates the main themes of the poem and Whitman's own consciousness which both connects him to future generations and separates him from his present. Without being apart from the whole, Whitman would have no individual consciousness and no ability to seek out the complex connections he creates in his poetry. As he says in the last four lines:

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 (CITE).

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