Anylization Of Crossing Brooklyn Ferry Essay, Research Paper
?Crossing Brooklyn Ferry?
Crossing Brooklyn Ferry is a sensitive, detailed record of Whitman?s thoughts and observations about the continuity of nature and brotherhood while aboard a ferry between Brooklyn and Manhattan. Through the use of exclamation , repetition, and apostrophe, Whitman conveys his joyful belief in world solidarity and mans acceptance of god through truth, nature and beauty.
Whitman begins the poem by describing his love and curiosity for the people that board the hundreds of ferry boats which cross back and forth each day. While aboard the ferry, Whitman is at peace with himself in his own solitary world. He sits back and admires every small detail while thinking of the connection between he and those who have or will cross Brooklyn Ferry. This connection exists because the feelings that are felt (being part of the crowd, leaning on the rail) and the images that are viewed on the ferry (the sunset, the flood tide, heights of Brooklyn) never change and are the ?similitude?s? between passengers past, present and future. Whitman uses the ferry as a means for joining people together, allowing them, regardless of their cultural differences to be one unified society.
Through the use of imagery, Whitman paints the reader many different pictures of the different sites and scenes he has experienced while aboard the ferry. From the ?Twelfth-month sea-gulls? to the ?large and small steamers in motion? he effectively describes the reflection of the sun, the different ships, and the fires from the chimneys in perfect detail. The scene of the harbor is now set as the reader has been shown the true beauty that Whitman and his countrymen have experienced. As the description concludes, the short fourth section serves mainly to reiterate the point that these afore mentioned images are the same to all people. The author also restates his profound love for both Manhattan and Brooklyn Harbor.
In the following section, Whitman poses the question ?What is it then between us?? in an effort to explain that the binding experience on the ferry is a result of the many similarities that we as human beings possess. Time and place don?t matter as we all grew up with the same questions, curiosities and confusion stirring within us. The many different people we met and experiences we had all played a part in shaping our identity and character. Through this process we have all felt self doubt and ?knew what it was to be evil?. We are similar as humans not only through our good qualities but also through our bad (guile, anger, lust, greed, laziness, etc.). Whitman metaphorically compares the adversities, atrocities and ecstasies of life to a role played by an actor in that, the outline of the part is always the same yet each person plays it differently.
Crossing Brooklyn Ferry illustrates the poet?s notion that a commonality of experience binds together the populations of an emerging nation and mankind in general. Throughout the centuries in which the ferry traverses between boroughs, the author ?stands motionless leaning upon the rail?. His images, impressions and feelings are suspended in and enhanced by the stream of life surrounding both himself and his past and future counterparts. The ?dumb ministers of nature? (sunsets, seagulls, and scalloped waves) are unchanging, repetitive, eternal and connect diverse peoples and distant generations. Neither the time nor setting are important, although extensively elaborated, as the poet feels that people are connected and enhanced by the shared observation of the perpetual and unchanging facts of nature.
The theme of the poem is amplified by the stylistic techniques which Whitman employs. Repetition of experience (commuting) and nature (sunrise, sunsets, twelfth month tides) reinforce the poets comfort with habitual human experience. Through introspection, confession and identification (?Lived the same life with the rest, the same old gnawing laughing, sleeping?) the poet portrays the basic human values with which he and all others are afflicted and permanently bound. His commute is the metaphor of the immortality of human nature.
The extent to which Crossing Brooklyn Ferry is autobiographical is open to debate. There is little evidence of homosexual symbolism. The protagonist’s tone varies from descriptive to lyrical, from confessional to analytical?but always spiritual with both optimistic and pessimistic undertones. He is suspended in animation for centuries amid the constant motion of river, boat, flags and the birds around him. His joy or frustration (not clear which) that defines his state of mind is epitomized by gulls floating with ?motionless wings and oscillating bodies”. The poet makes two somewhat contradictory points which somewhat endorse each other under close examination. The individual is seen only as an insignificant point of matter in the clamor of the harbor in the continuum of time. The commuter, like the gulls, ?transcends the float? in circular motion making roundtrips daily but proceeding to no further point. This inherently frustrating situation parallels mans mortality.
Whitman, in non-religious tones however provides a way out. Through the clever manipulation of space and time, person and tense, he creates a figurative path of escape. Immortality of thought is achieved by recognition of these articles of faith which surround our existence. “The fine spokes of light? are avenues from our universe to our souls and thus are enablers of immortality or freedom from the trappings of mortality.