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Crossing Brooklyn Ferry

Crossing Brooklyn Ferry

by Walt Whitman

Awe and Amazement Theme

The speaker of "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry" is blown-away by, like, everything he sees. He's like a small child in a shopping mall: "Wow! An electric nose-hair trimmer!" He doesn't divide the world up into good and bad, natural and unnatural. Everything fits together as it should. He even thinks the smoky chimneys of the foundries deserve verses of praise. And he comes close to losing it in his raptures of the sea gulls. What we're trying to say is: he's a really, really happy guy.

Questions About Awe and Amazement

  1. What does the word "curious" mean in this poem? How does it differ from "amazing"?
  2. Do you think there's anything in the world that would make the speaker shrug his shoulders and say, "Eh, it's just all right"?
  3. Does the speaker's awe at everything blind him to cruelty and suffering? Is anything in the poem described negatively?
  4. Here's a hard one: what object in the poem does the speaker find most amazing? So much to choose from!

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

The speaker makes no distinction between "Man" and "Nature." He believes that man's works are a part of nature.

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