Thursday, March 12, 2009

Crossing Brooklyn Ferry

Journal #19
Posted by Michael Fong
March 12, 2009
Walt Whitman, "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry"

"What is it then between us? / What is the count of the scores or hundreds of ye
ars between us? / Whatever it is, it avails not-distance avails not, and place avails not, / I too lived, Brooklyn of ample hills was mine, / I too walk'd the streets of Manhattan island, a
d bathed in the waters around it, / I too felt the curious abrupt questionings stir within me, / In
 the day among crowds of people sometimes they came upon me, / In my walks home late at night or as I lay in my bed they came upon me, / I too had been struck from the float forever held in solution, / I too had receiv'd identity by my body, / That I was I knew was of my body, and what I should be I knew I should be of my body." (Walt Whitman, "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry")

In Whitman's "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry", he muses about his place in the flow of time, and examines the identities of individuals as well as himself.  He includes images of ferries and buildings in the poem, and seems to say that the experiences that he has and the things he has gone through are, to some extent, similar with those of others.

I will not attempt to say that I understand the poem fully, but I have also gone to some lengths to refrain myself from looking up the synopsis/analysis of Whitman's poem online, as I feel that I should "get" the poem myself.  My impression of "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry" is the intriguing notion put forth by Whitman concerning one's individuality.  Not long ago I have heard an idea from a friend of mine who is currently majoring in sociology: Everyone claims to be unique in this world, and that is what makes everyone similar.  For Whitman to break all barriers of time, location, and place and say that everyone is, in a sense, not so different from others and that he understands everybody is an extremely bold idea to be said in his time.  Using simple, down-to-earth images of people boarding ferries and the river flowing
 by to make his point is ingenuity upon
 Whitman's part.  At the end of the day, we may all be only small particles of water constituting to the river of time.  We are not as significant or important as we perceive ourselves to be, but instead, we only are tiny pieces that are put together to create the big picture.  At the same time, such interconnectedness makes us not that much different from each other.  This is roughly what I myself got from "Crossing Brooklyn Bridge".  Whitman's poems are indeed organic, and who knows, twenty, or even forty years from now I may finally "get" and connect with the poem myself.  I might even be interviewed about my thoughts on Whitman's
 poetry with the camera rolling in my face on Columbus Ave/Broadway (or so I hope...)

1 comment:

  1. 20/20 Good: you "got" it. I love your friend's idea: "Everyone claims to be unique in this world, and that is what makes everyone similar."