“Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” Christian Siason

In his poem, Crossing Brooklyn Ferry, Walt Whitman describes the world he sees around him, utilizing imagery masterfully, painting  a picture for us readers to see clearly. He talks of watching seagulls flying around and of looking at “the vapor as it flew in fleeces tinged with violet,” among other image-provoking statements.

He also talks about how he related to the people on the ferry and the generations of people to come. He said that he too “walk’d the streets of Manhattan island, and bathed in the waters around it,” among other things all these people have done and will continue to do. This whole message really stuck with me. I’ve taken the Staten Island Ferry countless times, and I see all the other passengers. However, I’ve never really thought of them in the way that Whitman considers his fellow passengers in the poem.

Every time I take the ferry, there are hundreds of other people on the boat. Many of these people take the ferry each and every day, and have done so for years. It’s mind-boggling to think that for decades before I was even born, the same amount of people were likely making the daily trip to and from Staten Island and Manhattan. Hundreds of thousands of people have taken the ferry, and for decades to come, hundreds of thousands of people will continue to take the ferry. People will sit where I’ve sat, and I’ve sat where other people have sat. This whole thought makes me truly realize just how small we are in this world.

Crossing Brooklyn Ferry may seem, at first glance, to be a simple poem about what a man sees on the ferry while going home from work, but I found a much deeper meaning to it. It’s really a rather thought-provoking piece, and I’m glad I read it, as it has opened up a whole new perspective to me.