Walt Whitman- 1 Flood-tide below me! I watch you face to face; Clouds of the west! I see you also face to face. Crowds of men and women attired in the usual costumes!
The Heresy of the Didactic " Crossing Brooklyn Ferry " is a poem about a man taking the Brooklyn ferry home from Manhattan at the end of a working day.
Whitman's narrator begins the poem "seeing" the flood tide and the setting sun more clearly than his fellow passengers on the ferry; he regards the crowds as so removed from him that he cannot understand them: Crowds of men and women attired in the usual costumes, how curious you are to me.
On the ferry-boats the hundreds and hundreds that cross, returning home, are more curious to me than you suppose, And you that shall cross from shore to shore years hence are more to me, and more in my meditations, that you might suppose.
As the speaker shifts from addressing the crowd to the second person, something strange happens: Throughout the poem, he alternately despairs of his distance from his fellow men, and then feels himself coming to know them, as in the fifth section where he writes, "Closer yet I approach you.
With phrases like "The similitudes of the past and those of the future," and "the others that are to follow me, the ties between them and me," he creates a rocking motion within each line, as well as a kind of distance between the speaker and the reader.
In addition, the expansive anaphoric lines mimic the movement of the boat and the ebb and flow of the tides, which is at once comforting, mesmerizing, and even, in its repetition, numbing.
The third section is a detailed description of the sights and sounds of the ferry ride that the speaker claims will be shared by every future rider of the ferry. The repetition of syntax is shown here to its full advantage and scope, where he begins each line with the word "just," invoking both the Bible and Shakespeareand serving the greater purpose of uniting the disparate elements of the scene around him.
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 refreshed by the gladness of the river and the bright flow, I was refreshed, 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-stemmed pipes of steamboats, I looked.
He gives equal weight to both natural and manmade images in this section, noticing the "numberless masts of ships" as well as "the swift current.
Each individual on the ferry, but also in the past, present and future of Whitman's world, as well as each disparate image, is at once completely separated and joined to a greater purpose, what he comes to call later "the soul. It is in the third section that the first of two central images of the poem are established, the seagulls: Watched the Twelfth-month sea-gulls, saw them high in the air floating with motionless wings, oscillating their bodies, Saw how the glistening yellow lit up parts of their bodies and left the rest in strong shadow, This is one of several "split" images in the poem representing both the speaker and the crowds from whom he feels distanced.
Like the seagulls, the speaker himself is split, somehow between the past and the future living in his own time, but apparently able to imagine the futureand is neither in Manhattan or Brooklyn, but between the two, both distanced from the world around him and inside it.
Throughout the poem, he will refer to shadows as the "dark patches" that have fallen upon him, comforting us that "It is not upon you alone the dark patches fall.
It is not that the seagull he sees is either "bright" or "dark" but equally both, two opposites existing in one body, a contradiction. The second central image of the poem is that of the speaker leaning over the edge of the boat with the sun behind his head and, seeing spokes of light surrounding his face, imagining that another passenger, endless numbers of other passengers, will someday look into the water and see the same thing.
If he claims that we will see what he sees, then we must, in some sense, be the same person—so that ultimately it doesn't matter whose head he sees there in the water.
The circle in the water is his head, the reader's head, and the sun itself at the same time, and so the experience of looking into the water is both great and small.
Because he is describing such a particular angle, no onlooker would be able to see what he saw, but at the same time, the sun itself might see it, or anyone looking into the water might see it with his own face. The light at his back divides him in two, like the seagulls; his back is dark while his face is lit.
There is something about this vision that is disorienting as well. He claims to be "dazzled" by the "shimmering track of beams" as if it is the light that has made him momentarily lose reason and imagine himself to be a kind of ambassador to the future, telling us that he is thinking of us, that he has, as he says in Part 7, "consider'd long and seriously of you before you were born.
Be firm, rail over the river, to support those who lean idly, yet haste with the hasting current; Fly on, sea-birds! It is strange and beautiful here that Whitman, known for his endless generative powers, would return to each image, almost in comfort, hypnotically, to remind us of the connection between past and present, writer and reader, and to enact the scene that he is setting, where the same visions might be seen twice, one passively reading about it and one actively seeing it for oneself.
This section, and the poem, culminates in a final stanza where Whitman uses the pronoun "we" for the first time, as if reader and writer have finally been joined together, but also literally referring to how the passengers are seeing, at last, those on the shore who are waiting for them: You have waited, you always wait, you dumb, beautiful ministers, We receive you with free sense at last, and are insatiate henceforward, Not you any more shall be able to foil us, or withhold yourselves from us, 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.
As the reader, we are at once the future "perfection," waiting for the arrival of the ferry, but because we are now presently living, we are the travelers as well. In the final line, Whitman refers to "the soul," as if there were only one, without ownership i.
There is also a slight echo with the unwritten word "whole" parts toward the whole as if the words might mean the same thing.
Whitman has united the disparate elements of the crowd and has drawn closer to his fellow travelers by imagining a unified whole. The dualities of the poem are resolved:Crossing Brooklyn Ferry is considered one of the greatest lyrical poems of all time.
In Crossing Brooklyn Ferry, Walt Whitman uses connotative diction, prying questions, and critical reader engagement to convey a feeling of connection and unity of people through time.
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Walt Whitman wrote "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry" before the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge (which was completed in ). During Whitman's time, the ferry was the way most commuters traveled between Brooklyn and Manhattan. View Essay - Week 2- writing assignment from AML at Keiser University.
Week 2 Writing Assignment Walt Whitmans poem Crossing Brooklyn Ferry is an ode poem because it is lengthy and has a. Crossing Brooklyn Ferry by Walt Whitman - 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.