“Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” annotation
“Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” originally titled “Sun Down Poem” appeared first in Whitman’s work of Leaves of Grass in his second revised edition. By his last revision in 1881 the free verse poem was one of a kind during its era and gave rise to many criticisms due to its informal style. The poem on a literal level discusses the sights and sounds seen on an average venture with the “scallop edged waves in the twilight” (Whitman, 136) and the “crowds of men and women attired in usual costumes”(Whitman, 135) to cross the river from Manhattan to Brooklyn, yet on a figurative level Whitman discusses the adventure of the soul and the commonality of the body and soul, and within every human. Whitman’s use of the Brooklyn Ferry as a means to communicate to the reader about the human condition proves to be both inquisitive and insightful in that it raises questions about the body and soul that weren’t considered at the time, and rarely thought of today. His belief in people and the world flow into his poem, just like the tides of the Brooklyn Ferry, allowing the reader to see what Whitman believes.
Whitman’s style is as a poet for his time breaks barriers. He uses no specific form, therefore as a means to create rhythm he uses anaphora, syntax, and diction to create a rhythm for the reader. He also employs detailed imagery and uses the second perspective by asking the reader questions to ultimately better involve the reader, allowing them to see his philosophies. Whitman ultimately conveys to the reader a theme of commonality, that neither time nor space shall separate the reader from the author, or man from man. He equates himself with the reader by stating “just as you looked…I looked”(Whitman,137) and his poem embodies his belief.