He is part of the multitude of men, part of the eternal processes of birth, life, and death. In a joyous tribute to his ferry trip, he lists all the different components of his environment and commands each one to keep doing what it is doing. The poet, in section 5, poses a question about the relationship between himself and the generations to come. Throb, baffled and curious brain! Land symbolizes the physical; water symbolizes the spiritual. In the 10th verse, he exclaims that nothing is more beautiful or admirable than his view of stately Manhattan from his ferry. He lists the aspects of his surroundings, lists, the evil thoughts he has had and the sinful acts he has committed, and, at the very end of the poem, he lists the characteristics of his environment. Then he goes well beyond doubts to a litany of human frailties and failings, all of which, he tells the reader, he was as subject to as anyone.
Some of the most well known authors in this time period were Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman. Also the separation within the speaker where he keeps going back and forth between past and present while being between both Brooklyn and Manhattan, distanced from the world around him while he's having this odd bonding experience. By examining these motifs and tracing their development, ones understanding of the poem becomes highly deepened. If there be any spare energy, let it be applied to improving the indifferent accommodations at Catherine Ferry, and the wretchedness of that at Jackson Street. Have you even been disappointed after seeing a version of something on tv or in a movie, because you imagined it so differenlty, so much richer? The speaker's faith is firm, the questions that at first seem to express doubt turn out to be rhetorical. This individuality is what shows that they all will experience the beauty of New York differently. The curiosity of the poet's eyes extends from the physical the imagined, from the perceptual to the conceptual.
We must revel in our physical surroundings, for our relationship with our environment is the ticket to achieving spirituality and fulfillment. When he describes the ferry going from land to sea and then back to land, I think he is talking about the connection between the physical and spiritual worlds. He begins by describing his surroundings: the water below, the clouds, the sunrise, and the around him. He has learned to quell his desire to sin as if he is an actor playing a part, just like most of the people he passes on the street. Walt Whitman and the Citizen's Eye. Is his vision still relevant? In the first case, the goal in life is to work hard to be accepted by the standards of others. Sound out, voices of young men! He feels connected to a pattern larger than himself, and how the past and the future resemble each other.
Whitman raised the direct address to the reader, a common enough device in pre-twentieth-century literature, to an entirely different level, not artificial, but strangely, convincingly intimate. Although, I believe Whitman gave all of these people he meets a sense of individuality as well throughout the poem. He also uses the theater as a metaphor to represent the difference between public life and private life. Speaker and reader merge by means of a trick of tense. The speaker's tone in the poem is honest but also grateful. He realizes that the bonds between himself and other people are subtle but enduring.
Consider, you who peruse me, whether I may not in unknown ways be looking upon you; Be firm, rail over the river, to support those who lean idly, yet haste with the hasting current; Fly on, sea-birds! The idea of transcendence is here extended to that of transcending over time to make one's being connected to those of the people of the future. Gaze, loving and thirsting eyes, in the house, or street, or public assembly! It may seem strange, then, that none of the later revisions of the poem mention the construction of the , which began in 1869 and continued, with national attention to its progress, until it opened to the public formally on 24 May 1883. The dualities of the poem are resolved: light and dark, reader and writer, past and future, life and death—all become momentarily the same as the ferry approaches the shore. The Lunar Light of Whitman's Poetry. Whitman challenges the linear notion of time by connecting past with future. Steamships and buildings are described in the same terms as seagulls and waves. In the end Whitman seems to give more credence to shared experience than Coleridge does.
But in the poem he addresses not an imaginary companion on a contemporary stroll but the generations who will come long after him. The union between himself and others cannot be understood in ordinary terms, by teaching, or by preaching — it is more mystical and intuitive. We've let them get away from us in the past, but no more! Frolic on, crested and scallop-edg'd waves! It is evident that Whitman is very emotionally attached to crossing the river and its environment, and I think that he loves it so much, that he has to share his awe and joy with others. Whitman also utilizes his favorite list technique many times in this poem. The future becomes present and present becomes past. Land and water thus form part of the symbolistic pattern of the poem.
While Wordsworth is more concerned with the idea of the power of place, Coleridge, like Whitman, is more interested in the relevance of shared experience, and its ability to potentially transcend barriers of space and mortality. Complete Poetry and Collected Prose. Anywhere, especially at your local public library, in your poetry club or reading group, with your students, or in Times Square. We are trying to play a role we are not. We're like, hey, you're not dead yet. Whitman wonders what he means not as a poet but as another anonymous individual to the crowds of strangers he sees every day.
Whitman's Journeys into Chaos: A Psychological Study of the Poetic Process. I too saw the reflection of the summer sky in the water, Had my eyes dazzled by the shimmering track of beams, Lookd at the fine centrifugal spokes of light around the shape of my head in the sun-lit water, Lookd on the haze on the hills southward and southwestward, Lookd on the vapor as it flew in fleeces tinged with violet, Lookd toward the lower bay to notice the arriving ships, Saw their approach, saw aboard those that were near me, Saw the white sails of schooners and sloopssaw the ships at anchor, The sailors at work in the rigging, or out astride the spars, The round masts, the swinging motion of the hulls, the slender serpentine pennants, The large and small steamers in motion, the pilots in their pilot-houses, The white wake left by the passage, the quick tremulous whirl of the wheels, The flags of all nations, the falling of them at sun-set, The scallop-edged waves in the twilight, the ladled cups, the frolicsome crests and glistening, The stretch afar growing dimmer and dimmer, the gray walls of the granite store-houses by the docks, On the river the shadowy group, the big steam-tug closely flankd on each side by the bargesthe hay-boat, the belated lighter, On the neighboring shore, the fires from the foundry chimneys burning high and glaringly into the night, Casting their flicker of black, contrasted with wild red and yellow light, over the tops of houses, and down into the clefts of streets. By using these devices, Whitman shakes his audience with the convincing notion that life as it is normally perceived is not important. Who knows but I am as good as looking at you now, for all you cannot see me? The ninth and final section urges the phenomena he has already mentioned—the tide, the waves, clouds, current and future passengers, masts of Manhattan and hills of Brooklyn, the ships, the sea birds, ending with the foundry fires and their shadows—to continue doing their work in the overall scheme. His world is dominated by a sense of good, and evil has a very subservient place in it. Later, when the Brooklyn Bridge was being built, the threat to ferries became apparent, and Whitmanregistered far less enthusiasm for that particular modern engineering wonder than would be expected of him.