When we discussed Walt Whitman’s “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” in seminar class today, I realized that my favorite part of the poem was the ninth stanza.  The speaker seems to be commanding nature to continue as it is, for the nature is what connects the generations and different people; time proceeds and the world changes, but the waves will still “cross from shore to shore countless crowds of passengers (stanza 9 line7)”.  In fact, this stanza reminded me of Lord Alfred Tennyson’s poem “The Brook”, in which the speaker, the brook, says, “I chatter, chatter as I flow To join the brimming river, For men may come and men may go, But I go on forever.”  The brook, and all of nature, connects generations.  People benefit from the brook, and when they pass on, their children, and eventually grandchildren will enjoy from the same water. Though I’m not really a conservationist, and I am guilty of throwing soda cans into the regular trash, these poems make me feel a little worried about our environment.  Trees are constantly being cut down to make room for more buildings, and we are losing a source of connection between generations.  So, “flow on river! (Whitman stanza 9, line 1)” “For men may come and men may go but [you] go on forever (Tennyson 11)”.


Wednesday, during Seminar, we began by discussing Walt Whitman’s Crossing Brooklyn Ferry. I like discussing poetry together in the class as a discussion, because I get to see certain elements that I would not have noticed otherwise. We learned about how his writing reflected the romanticism era in literature. Once I understood what the ideas of this era consisted of, I was able to tie certain details back to the poem. Also, I could infer certain details about the speaker.  We also discussed the era of realism, when people began to question things such as their roles in life. They wanted to make a real change. This prompted the idea of realism, where novels reflected reality and not just the classic fiction ideas that dominated the earlier centuries. Dracula, Frankenstein, and other works were released, and they depicted the darker side to humanity. Characters were shown as having deceiving personalities.

After we had a thorough understanding of the two time periods in literature, we continued our discussion of Crossing Brooklyn Ferry. Having written a blog on it earlier, I understood what each stanza meant. I had already tied certain feelings to the poem. However discussing it with the class brought many new ideas to light, and these ideas were something that I would not have thought of on my own.

I noticed that the starting words within each stanza were repetitive. We then learned that writers use this technique to convey feelings of irritability, anger, or serenity. Discussing the poem together helped answer some of the questions I had about the vague perspectives that were apparent to me throughout the poem.

Wednesday 10/24 Andrew Garafalo

During class this Wednesday we focused on the analysis of Walt Whitman’s poem, Crossing Brooklyn Ferry. I really enjoyed the poem and feel like it stands out especially to me being a New Yorker. We discussed the author’s use of repetition to convey meaning. In this case, the repetition was used to emphasize the theme of longevity of the author’s connection to New York and the harbor, and to those who will observe the same scenery in the future. Walt Whitman found intense beauty in the city, and he does a masterful job of expressing this even for someone who has never seen New York. It was interesting to learn that the author was a gay man. This seems to slightly change the way you look at the poem, to try to see if his writing style is influenced by his sexual orientation.

Along with the analysis of the poem, we listened to the song ” A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” by Bob Dylan. I love the song, personally being a Bob Dylan fan. In comparison to the style of Walt Whitman’s poem, it is very similar. Many lines start off with the same word (I met, I heard, I saw). BD uses a lot of repetition and similar rhythm in his verses. To me, this creates a comforting feeling, yet if you listen carefully to the lyrics they are often distressing. There is a consistent shift of emotion in the song through the lyrics, and this is contrasted by the simple melody of a few guitar chords. The chords also happen to be major chords that give a bright tone to the song. The listener is not necessarily pointed towards any particular emotion they should feel.



In today’s seminar, we took a look at Walt Whitman’s poem Crossing Brooklyn Ferry. I had already read the poem before the class on Wednesday, so I knew what really stood out to me and I had my opinions set in my mind. However, I always like reviewing these kinds of things in class the next day so that we get different insights on them and are able to view them from a different point of view. When we reviewed this poem in class, we spoke about the symbols used in the poem, as well as the way the poem itself was written and the effect it had on its meaning.

I never realized how much of an effect the rhythm of a poem could have on the poem itself. We spoke about how the repetition and rhythm of the poem echoed the boat rocking back and forth, as well as the people getting on and off the boat. This definitely complemented the overall theme of the poem, and gave a great new perspective on the poem that allowed me to picture the vivid imagery of the poem. A great poem will have rhythm to reflect its meaning, just like an emotionally powerful song can have a slow tempo with long-held dramatic notes to make the song come together.

Walt Whitman really ennobled the experience of riding the ferry, perhaps reminding us to enjoy the little things in life. He spoke so elegantly and created great imagery through his diction and rhythm, which I would never realize on my own.

~Poems Poems Poems Naomi 10/24/12~

Wednesday during seminar we studied poetry.  We looked at Walt Whitman’s poem Crossing Brooklyn Ferry and examined how he used repetition to promote his message.  I found it interesting how he created a rocking sensation for his reader by repeating terms and words throughout the poem.  The poem had a rhythm which made it feel as though the words were moving back and forth with the waves that he was describing.  I also found it interesting that that this ebb and flow was reminiscent of the movement of a boat, which is what the speaker is talking about.  When I first read the poem, I didn’t pick up on this use of literary device, yet I appreciate Whitman’s ability to seamlessly weave the literal and symbolic in his poetry.

In addition to examining the literary devices used in Crossing Brooklyn Ferry we discussed the age of Romanticism and listed some of the most prominent authors, musicians and works from that time period.  My favorite stories from the romantic era are the Grimm Fairytales.  When the NBC television show came out last year, entitled Grimm, I became interested in the stories which inspired the show.  Until then I hadn’t read many fairytales which weren’t “kid friendly”, where everyone lives happily ever after.  I love the original fairytales because they’re not what you would expect.  In the Grimm version of Cinderella, the evil stepsisters cut off parts of their feet to fit into Cinderella’s sipper and then are blinded at the end of the story.  If you had told me this version of Cinderella when I was little I would have been freaked out.  My favorite Grimm fairytale is the story of Bearskin, which also demonstrates some very PG-13 plot twists.  However, I find the Grimm versions more interesting than the disney versions.  The darkness of these tales are indicative of their time.  During the 19th century it was important that children behave, and one way to ensure that they did this, was to scare them into doing so.


Corinna 10-24-12

At the beginning of seminar this past Wednesday, we discussed Walt Whitman’s poem Crossing Brooklyn Ferry, which we were assigned on Monday to read and analyze on our own.  I was glad we went over the poem together due to the fact that interpreting poetry is something I have a considerable amount of trouble with.  We covered things such as how Whitman was writing during a period of romanticism.  This was something I was unaware of when reading Crossing Brooklyn Ferry alone, but once informed, I seemed to have a better understanding of the poem.  It turns out that this time period is known for giving rise to the middle class and also nationalism.  In addition, the idea of the individual was new to America, which brought along questions such as “Who am I in the world?” Another piece of information that was brought to my attention was that Walt Whitman was a gay man.  Professor Kahan’s statement about Whitman defying stereotypes as far as physical appearance goes, but making it more apparent through his writing, was something I found to be extremely interesting.  It seems that Whitman’s imagery, and descriptive scenery is something that could give his sexual orientation away.  I certainly would never have been able to draw this conclusion on my own.

Although we did cover some things that had not crossed my mind, we also went over things that I had picked up on when reading it myself.  For one, we talked about how Whitman, through wonderful usage of imagery, turned something that is probably seen by so many as dreadful (taking the ferry) into something pleasant and interesting.  Also Whitman’s use of repetition was something I had noticed when reading.  This included the word “you,” in order to make everything more personal.  Even though I came into class knowing these things, it was nice going over them because it showed me that I had done a decent job analyzing this poem.

October 24, 2012

In Seminar on Wednesday, we discussed the evolution in 19th century literature from Romanticism to Realism. While we typically associate the term “romanticism” with romance, this is not the case in literature. People during this time period had more leisure time available to them and wanted literature to read. Some of the great writers of that time included Henry James, Charlotte and Emily Bronte, Mary Shelley and Robert Louis Stevenson.

The era of Realism came when people started questioning things such as the meaning of life and who they were in the world. These questions provoked writers to create stories that mimic reality instead of fiction. Most stories did not have a happy ending. This introduced the dark side of humanity to literature. Characters like the mad woman from Jane Eyre, who had a mental disability, and the dual personality of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde exposed the dark side, which really had never been portrayed in literature before.

For the second half of the class, we dissected and dug into Walt Whitman’s poem, “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry.” In the first section of the poem, the speaker seems to be addressing two people, sometimes individually and sometimes simultaneously. At first, he is addressing the person that is physically in front of him, seeming to have a full on discussion. He talks about the people around him and the hustle and bustle on the boat. Second, the speaker seems to be addressing the sunset and the “clouds of the west,” speaking past the physical boat. He is trying to relate the person that is in front of him to the people and things that are way beyond his physical body, such as the landscape. During this conversation with the landscape, there is a constant repetition of “I see you face to face…,” almost as if the speaker is trying to create a relationship between himself and the clouds. In addition, the constant use of the pronoun “you” makes this “relationship” seem personal.

In the second section, the speaker starts describing and commenting on what he sees in the harbor. He describes the bridges, the island and the ships, as well as the movement of the water. However, there is more focus on trying to relate the man made creations, such as the boats and bridges%

Seminar Class 10/24/12

On wednesday’s class, Professor Kahan discussed the topics of romanticism and realism as an introduction to Walt Whitman’s Crossing Brooklyn Ferry. The romantic era occurred in the 19th century just as the rise of the bourgeois was beginning. This time period examined the dark side of arts and literature. For example, the well known novels Frankenstein and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde came from this era. Unlike the romantic era, the realist era dealt with topics in literature that can truly occur in real life. A great example of a piece of literature that was written during this time period is Washington Square. It is a part of realistic literature because a heiress during that time could truly be deciveed by a man for her money.

After our discussion about these two time periods, we talked about Walt Whitman’s poem Crossing Brooklyn Ferry. I was happy to have read the poem before discussing it in class as a homework assignment. It was a great way for me to fully understand the meaning of the poem and, more importantly, to help me interpret the poem based on my own ideas and thoughts. When we discussed the poem in class on wednesday, most of what was said was similar to my own interpretations of the poem. However, there were some interesting ideas that I never thought of while reading the poem on my own. For example, Professor Kahan pointed out that Whitman repeats many of his ideas throughout the poem.  The repetition in this poem was considered a soothing element. However, the idea of repetition is not always soothing for it can also be considered annoying as well. We also compared this idea of repetition in the poem to the repetition in the Book of Psalms in the Bible. The repetition in the Book of Psalms is also considered a soothing element just as it was in Whitman’s poem.

Although English and Literature are not two of m favorite topics to study, I enjoyed wednesday’s discussion on Walt Whitman’s poem. I look forward to hearing my classmates’ poems as well as reading my own poem to the class on monday.

Ariana Z. 10/24

On Wednesday’s seminar class, we spoke about the nineteenth century and all the wonderful pieces that made up that era. First, we discussed the characteristics of this time period. Some include a sense of nationalism, and a new desire to belong to more then a god and a king. This was brought about after the rise of the middle class. Since the new guilds began taking care of people, they were able to get more than enough food.With a better sense of well being, and ample time to do other things like read and write, more people desired to discover their purpose in life and ask “Who am I?” This was the beginning of individualism. Its amazes me how, with fewer things to worry about, a persons mind can truly expand. When I was a young child and had nearly nothing to worry about, it seemed so much easier to discover who I was, and to explore all aspects of my personality. As you grow older, there are more things to think about, less room in your mind, and less time to extensively work on who you are in opposition to nature. Nevertheless, as you get older and have more to think about, how you deal with these thoughts seem to state who you truly are.

We also discussed how the dark side of human nature was personified by its literature in the nineteenth century, probably due to the revolutions occurring at the time. One of the novels written during that period, that stuck out in my mind was Madame Bovary. In my opinion this novel epitomized romanticism and the dark side of human nature. As Madame Bovary planned her party, she was reminded of the the multiple love affairs she had after marrying her husband. Adultery, in my opinion is a form of the dark side of human nature. Furthermore, after reading this novel two years ago, I remember noticing how Madame Bovary might have used these affairs to become her own person. She desired to be an individual, and to live beyond the realms as “Madame Bovary.” With this new knowledge of the nineteenth century ideals and their influence on writing, I now see how this could have influenced the author of Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert.

10. 24. 12

Today, we started class with a short history on the Romantic era. It was interesting to see the shift in thought from the mid-18th century, individualism and skepticism, to the end of the century, moving toward realism. Speaking of this shift, I did some research on composers from the Romantic era. One of the composers that I think represents the Romantic era best is Tchaikovsky. Tchaikovsky wrote a whole piece about a revolution (1812 Overture). When you think about it, most of the literature taught in high school is from the mid- to late 18th century. A couple of these pieces include Moby Dick by Herman Melville and the Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Even some of the most studied poets in high school are from the Romantic era such as Emily Dickinson and Edgar Allen Poe.

The introduction of the Romantic era led us into our discussion of Crossing Brooklyn Ferry by Walt Whitman. I think it is evident by the poem that Whitman is a cross between the Romanticism and Realism eras. The Romantic elements of his poem are displayed by the theme. The Realistic element is in his descriptive writing of the scenery.

It was nice discussing the poem piece by piece because it helped me realize more about the poem. I was confused about the beginning of the poem, I couldn’t figure out why he was mentioning so many subjects and referring to them all as “you”. After it was stated that Whitman was changing the perspective, I realized it made sense that he was addressing different subjects to give us a big picture view. The symbolization of the seagulls completely flew over my head until Andrew mentioned it in class. This poem made me realized that not everything has to make sense, as long as I can see the big picture.

– Amber G