Crossing Brooklyn Ferry
Crossing Brooklyn Ferry
by Walt Whitman

Crossing Brooklyn Ferry Analysis

Symbols, Imagery, Wordplay

The Current and TidesThe tide is the first thing that the speaker addresses "face to face" in the poem. The ebb and flow of the tides – and their currents – represent continuity. Whitma...

Form and Meter

Free VerseThe 1860 version of the poem is divided into 26 sections with 147 lines. The version from 1881 has only nine sections, but most of the lines are the same. The entire poem is written in fr...

Speaker

There's an episode of The Simpsons when Homer tries to get his perpetually sunny neighbor, Ned Flanders, to admit that he doesn't like something – anything. At one point, Homer asks, "What ab...

Setting

The poem is set on an evening ferry ride from Manhattan to Brooklyn, a half hour before sunset. The ferry is bustling with businessmen in expensive clothes, women with little kids, and workers retu...

Sound Check

Reading this poem sounds like trying to talk with your mouth full of some ridiculously rich dessert. There's just so many words, so much to chew on, that we have a hard time taking it all in. At th...

What's Up With the Title?

The first published version of this poem from the 1856 edition of Leaves of Grass was titled "Sun Down Poem." The imagery of light and darkness is central to the poem, but eventually Whitman must h...

Calling Card

"I too"It's a small thing, but you can't say "I too" repeatedly without seeming to channel Walt Whitman. He always wants to make fast friends with his readers by claiming to have had the exact same...

Tough-O-Meter

(5) Tree Line Whitman is one of the few poets whose works are more difficult than they seem. He goes out of his way not to intimidate the reader with complicated formal devices and fancy-pants lang...

Brain Snacks

Langston Hughes, the well-known 20th century poet of the Harlem Renaissance, borrowed Whitman's phrase "I too" for his classic poem about the African-American experience, "I, Too, Sing America." (R...

Sex Rating

PG-13Whitman is a coy fellow: he's great at talking about sex without seeming to talk about it. Everything is just gossip: no wonder fellow poet Emily Dickinson didn't read him because she had "hea...

Shout Outs

Historical ReferencesMannahatta (Section 24)

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