Crossing Brooklyn Ferry Andrew Garafalo

I really enjoyed “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” by Walt Whitman. As I started to read the poem, I noticed the author is captivated by the ocean, and its waves and currents. The people who ride the ferry also stand out to him, as he is one among hundreds that feel disintegrated, yet part of the whole scenario nonetheless. The author emphasizes the fact that years from now, people will watch the same sunset, waves and islands as he once did. He will always be with the people of the city after he is gone. He relates with other people of the city very much so, despite his distance or time between them. He has questioned the same things as others before him, and as those after him will.

The author goes on to discuss all of the emotions he has felt. He says he relates to all of us. I feel this is genuine and honest. I can see how this man once felt and acted, and also where and how he found tranquility. The sixth part is full of beautiful imagery of New York Harbor, and its surroundings and inhabitants. “The white wake left by the passage, the quick tremulous whirl of the wheels,” I am very impressed by the way the author can express his perspective of the beauty of the city, and also how it feels to be one in a crowd of thousands. I find the poem to be easily relatable as a New Yorker, and as a young person looking towards his future.

Crossing Brooklyn Ferry

In Crossing Brooklyn Ferry, by Whitman, the speaker not only elegantly describes a ferry ride, but tries to bring the speaker closer to him in his time period. The speaker brings the reader closer to himself by describing himself and the scene, and by speaking directly to the reader. In this poem, the speaker refers to his dark times and is very honest with us. I feel that he is trying to relate with us and show us how similar we are despite the time difference. He also brings us closer to him through his many details of the ferry ride as well. He almost makes you feel like you are apart of the ferry ride with him because of the way that he describes how the light reflects off of his head in the river, the “oscillating” seagulls and the sailing ships. I enjoyed these details a lot and they bring soothing images to my mind.

The speaker tries to break through the fabric of time and put us next to him on that ferryboat by also referring to us many at times. He is constantly telling that we are important to him and always on his mind. He even puts himself next to the reader when he says  “Who knows, for all the distance I am as good as looking at you now, for all you cannot see me.”(7:8-9) Out of all of the lines in the poem, this line sticks out to me the most. I felt that the speaker was talking directly to me. These lines made me realize that the speaker was trying to connect with the readers, and bring us closer to him.

~Crossing Brooklyn Ferry 10/22/12 Naomi~

After reading Crossing Brooklyn Ferry by the poet Walt Whitman, I can’t help but feel like it is a love letter.  When I say love letter I don’t mean in the traditional sense, but I feel that it is a love letter to future generations.  The speaker starts out describing his ferry ride, the “flood-tide” the “clouds of the west”, the “sun there half an hour high” and then slowly begins to talk to the people of his city, present and future generations included.  Symbolically, as he travels across the water, moving from one shore to the next, he travels across time.  He reaches out to his future readers, to the future inhabitants of his beloved city, and he draws comparisons between his life and theirs’.  He notes that they will see the same things on their ferry rides, that he sees on his. The speaker says, “I am with you, you men and women of a generation, or ever so many generations hence, Just as you feel when you look on the river and sky, so I felt…” and he points out that even though there may be hundreds of years between him and his prospective reader, that time and distance make no difference.

In addition to sharing his city and love, I find it interesting that the speaker also notes that his reader will share his negative attributes as well.  In stanza 6, the speaker writes, “It is not upon you alone that the dark patches fall…” and “Nor is it you alone who know what it is to be evil…”.  Through this the speaker moves past what it means to share his city, and broadens the topic to examine what it means to be human and share humanity.  In this sense, acknowledging the humanness of his reader, he connects with his reader, almost as if he is reaching the other shore.  This poem, at face value is about one person’s story about their life, but upon further examination, it is a story about life itself, told from one very specific corner of the universe.

P.S. I can draw a text to text connection between this poem and the song, I was here by Beyonce. The lyrics are, “I was here, I lived, I loved. I was here, I did, I’ve done, everything that I wanted and it was more than I thought it would be…I will leave my mark so everyone will know”


Crossing Brooklyn Ferry

In Walt Whitman’s “Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge”, the speaker turns a normal, common ferry ride into a philosophical experience.  As the narrator sits on the boat, he examines “the crowds of men attired in the usual costumes (1:4)”.  Instead of merely glancing at the other passengers (like I do on the ferry), he wonders about them. His fellow commuters are “more curious to [him] than you suppose (1:7)”, and they “in [his] meditations (1:10)”.  The speaker seems to connect himself with all the other passengers and with all the other people in the world; “everyone [is disintegrated yet part of the scheme (2:4)”.  Everyone goes through the same experiences, like ferry rides.  Everyone “knows what it is to be evil (6:6)”, and everyone feels the same emotions.  The narrator is on a journey; he is neither in Manhattan nor Brooklyn.  He is in between destinations and between the past and future.  The place and time doesn’t matter.  We are all individually somewhat connected and are accompanying each other on this ferry ride we call life.

Corinna 10-22-12

When I first was assigned Walt Whitman’s poem Crossing Brooklyn Ferry, I was amazed at how long a poem about a ferry ride could be.  However, once I started reading, not only could I understand how, but I was also able to relate.  First off, when Whitman says, “Crowds of men and women attired in the usual costumes, how curious you are to me” (Pg. 24 stanza 2), it reminded me so much of my rides on trains and buses.  I have always taken public transportation to get to school or wherever else I had to go, and what helps the ride become less dreadful and long is watching the people around me. I am so interested in these strangers and even try to figure out what their stories are and/or the type of people they are.  Another thing we share, to my surprise, is the wonder of how many people will get on and off the train or bus I’m riding, just like Whitman does with the ferry.  In addition, his comment, “It avails not, time nor place—distance avails not, I am with you, you men and women of a generation, ever so many generations hence…” (Pg. 25 stanza 2), brings a feeling of comfort to me as well.  His suggestion that we are all alike makes me feel less alone.

It seems that the purpose of this poem is to shed light on the idea that all people share a bond.  Whitman even takes it a step further and talks about how people are similar emotionally.  He starts off talking about the bad person he once was and all the bad things he used to do.  This is probably relatable to most people because, for the most part, all people at some point in their lives have done things that they were not proud of.  What I like most about this poem is the amount of honesty that exists.  He says things that most people would think twice about saying out loud. Besides his talk about the person he once was and his extreme curiosity, he discusses his negative views on people when he says, “Appearances, now or henceforth, indicate what you are…” (Pg. 33 stanza 2).

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.


Walt Whitman’s “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” – Swathi Satty

While reading Walt Whitman’s Crossing Brooklyn Ferry”, I immediately noticed the use of repetition and realized that it was used to constantly bring the reader’s focus back onto the point he is making. Basically, Whitman says that even if each individual has his/her own experiences, we can all relate on the fact that we still share the same land, making us no different than our neighbor. He admits his curiosity and and unfamiliarity with the different sorts of people that enter Manhattan and Brooklyn but then realize that all of them are standing under the same sun and under the same seagulls that were “high in the air floating with motionless wings, oscillating their bodies.”(Stanza 3). Such lines have been repeated throughout the poem, almost to pull him back to the reality of the situation which is that even if his personal life may be different than the culture and lifestyles of so many others, they still function the same as human beings. An example is shown when Waltman writes through the narrator “lived the same life with the rest, the same laughing, gnawing, sleeping.” (Stanza 6)

His observations made them question what real line is drawn between people that makes them believe that they aren’t compatible or approving of someone else because in many ways, we still see the same things and have the same reactions: when we think something’s funny, we laugh. When we find something upsetting, we frown. And he realizes that New York is a huge melting pot and he realizes just how much he respects New York for being such a great blender of different people. Coming to the realization that we are all the same in such a big city as New York, made the narrator fall in love with the city and embrace it for the unity that it brings and will continue to bring, as the narrator feels not much will change in the future in terms of how we resemble each other.

The gender of the narrator is not specified but perhaps that was Whitman’s way of saying that gender doesn’t make much of a difference because all people still experience similar situations in such a vibrant city. The use of the Brooklyn Ferry is that it allows the narrator to look at people from all different backgrounds. Tourists and residents use the ferry to get around so the narrator is fully able to observe different cultures yet see how the tourists behave the same as he/does.

Crossing Brooklyn Ferry

In yesterday’s class, we were given a poem by Walt Whitman entitled Crossing Brooklyn Ferry. This poem has a very a deep and profound meaning, although it is not explicitly stated. Upon reading the poem and closely analyzing it however, I could understand exactly what Whitman was trying to convey. Everyone in the world is connected. If we think about riding the Staten Island Ferry, certain mental images come to mind. We usually don’t know anyone on the ferry, but we all see the same things: the Statue of Liberty, the ships sailing, and that unforgettable view of the Manhattan skyline at night. As we gaze at these icons, we never stop to think that everyone else on that same ferry is looking at the same things and probably thinking the same things we are. No matter what languages they may speak or what they may look like, we are all connected by our thoughts and what we see, and as Whitman said, “What is it then between us?” (Stanza 5). The world really doesn’t seem so big and abstract when we think of the fact that everyone else in the world really isn’t so different than us. People hundreds of years ago have once stood in our place thinking about the same things we have. This gives me a sense of comfort that everyone is connected somehow, even if we do not always realize it.


I think Walt Whitman’s poem Crossing Brooklyn Ferry is definitely a piece that requires the reader to read through the poem a few times and analyze each stanza. During my first read through I was completely confused on what the poem was about. I didn’t know if it was about what the speaker was seeing on his ride on the ferry or how he feels connected with the people who have rode and will ride the ferry. About halfway through I realized it was about both. The speaker is talking about how so many people have seen, are seeing, and will see the same things he is looking at which is why he feels a connection with these people.

The speaker uses a lot of repetition. Often, the speaker repeated the same word in consecutive lines in stanzas. I think this repetition shows the connection the speaker is telling the reader about. Another way the speaker illustrates the connection he feels with people is by telling the reader he has done the same things he sees people doing currently.

The most interesting thing I noticed which furthers the concept of being connected is that the speaker addresses all of the questions and reiterates the statements he said throughout the poem in the last two stanzas. I also think these last two stanzas serve to show that even in the future, we’re still connected to the past and present. I think the last two lines of the poem summarize the flow of continuity, “You furnish your parts toward eternity,/Great or small, you furnish your parts toward the soul.”

-Amber G.

October 22, 2012

After wrapping up our discussion about “The Heiress,” we moved on to the topic of poetry. We started out with the poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost. This was a good introductory piece, since most of us were familiar with it, and, therefore, could discuss the style in which it is written.

For this blog, we were asked to read the poem “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” by Walt Whitman. Walt Whitman was a famous NY poet, widely known for his vivid depictions of Manhattan during the 1800’s. In this poem, Whitman describes the views and various people that are riding with him from Brooklyn to Manhattan. He is very intrigued about the crowd, dressed in their costumes (attire) going to or home from their various jobs around the city. He is very curious about how these people interact as a crowd, and how everyone seems to be “tied together.” All of a sudden, it seems to occur to him that all of these people are related because they, as well as their ancestors before and after them, will have crossed that same river at one time or another. He feels this simple shared experience bonds them. I would never have thought of that! While there is no single “Brooklyn Ferry” today, there are several ferries that run people into and out of Manhattan from various places. Anyone who has taken a ride on the Staten Island Ferry, for example, has experienced the same views, clouds, sunset, birds overhead, or swooshing of the water. While the people change, the common experience remains the same. Little has changed since the poem was written all those years ago, and little is expected to change in the future.

After reading this poem, a classic disco song, “Native New Yorker,” immediately popped into my head. I find it to be quite similar to what Whitman was describing about NYC. The song starts off, “You grew up ridin’ the subway, running with people, up in Harlem down on Broadway.” It continues, throughout the song, to point out all of the common experiences of being a native New Yorker. It is a bond of experiences among total strangers.