10/22/12 – Crossing Brooklyn Ferry by Walt Whitman

Our assignment for Monday’s seminar class was to read Crossing Brooklyn Ferry by Walt Whitman and express our various feelings in a blog post. First off, when I first was introduced to this poem, in high school, I remember it to be a lot shorter in length; I guess that was because my class and I only read an excerpt from the entire piece of work. However, when I began to read it again, I immediately started to vividly remember the various discussions and connections we made with this poem and the concept of life. It seems to me that repetition of words was used frequently because I think it enabled the reader to grasp the full concept of what the speaker is trying to portray. By using the same word again within a stanza, I felt a different emotion than one without repetition.

At first glance, it seems to be a story of what a man sees and thinks, while aboard the ferry on his way home from work. However, once I was finished dissecting the poem in its entirety, I came to the realization that the meaning, is in fact much deeper than what meets the eye. Mr. Whitman categorizes everyone in a very similar manner, particularly those who use the ferry as a form of transportation. For example, in stanza four he said, “These and all else were to me the same as they are to you,” which directly relates to the idea that we all go about our daily processes in nearly the same way. We, as passengers aboard the ferry have sat where people before us have sat, and people after us, will sit where we have sat. All humans are connected physically, and spiritually. Walt uses the ferry as one example that displays his belief.

This poem definitely made me start to think how similar the basis of my life is with everyone else. We all experience hardships and tribulations, whether we look at humans before our time or what is to come. In stanza three, it reads, “Just as any of you is one of a living crowd, I was one of a crowd.” This very quote strengthens his ideals, for we may feel sometimes distant from everyone else, but in fact we are all one, and operate in a similar fashion.

I think this poem in a way relates to Ways of Seeing by John Berger because we notice everyone aboard the ferry but don’t actually see them for who they are and what they represent. By delving deeper, we come to the realization that all humans are related in some way, and not until you “see” it, will you understand where Walt Whitman is coming from. This poem opened up my eyes to a different way of thinking, and I am developing a new fondness for poetry.