Walt Whitman’s poem, “Crossing Brooklyn Ferryboat”, describes the poet musing about the connection in between the past, present and future as a constant thread of experience. Although the poem is filled with rich and brilliant imagery, it is not about individuals, buildings, water, sun or the ferry flight. It has to do with how the easy experience of riding a ferryboat and crossing the sea awakens within the poet a deep and profound insight about the motion of time and mankind moving along and being moved along by it.
Whitman instantly suggests his objective right from the very first stanza when he addresses the individuals and informs them that they “are more curious to me than you suppose.” He continues to point out how a “simple, compact, well-joined scheme” connects the previous and the future “like beads”. This theme of oneness would then be highlighted and repeated in the prospering lines as the poet proceeds to describe the numerous sights and sounds that a person would sense as a traveler of the ferry, each one functioning as signs to support the poem’s style.
He describes the experience of watching the seagulls in the sky, being dazzled by the glare of the sun, the ships of all varieties and sizes both anchored and sailing, and even the chimneys and the lights from the buildings by the shore. The profusion of images and repetitions in sentence structure create a sense of wholeness to the world being described by the poet. This emphasizes to the reader that the ferry ride is a symbol of the totality of the life experience and connectedness of the past to the future not just for one person, too, but for others as well as Whitman states that “These, and all else, were to me as they are to you.
” The entire poem is full of activity but this sense of constant movement effectively conveys the continuity of everything in life that the poet wants to describe. There might be changes like new buildings rising, but change is also part of this chain of movement. The immortality of humanity lies upon the fact that we do not cease to exist, generations succeed one after the other, and natural elements like the sun and tides keep their regular patterns.
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