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Crossing Brooklyn Ferry

Crossing Brooklyn Ferry

by Walt Whitman

Identity Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #4

The wolf, the snake, the hog, not wanting in me,
The cheating look, the frivolous word, the adulterous wish, not wanting,
Refusals, hates, postponements, meanness, laziness, none of these wanting. (lines 78-80)

The speaker has a veritable jungle inside him. He's part-man, part-wolf/snake/hog. Once again, his choice of words is interesting. He says his evil thoughts and actions are "not wanting," or lacking, as if it would be a problem if they were lacking. His "dark patches" make him a complete person.

Quote #5

But I was a Manhattanese, free, friendly, and proud
I was called by my nighest name by clear loud voices of young men as they saw me approaching or passing, (lines 81-82)

By calling himself "Manhattanese," the speaker connects his identity to the Native Americans who originally inhabited the island. A lot of people think of Whitman as a nature poet, someone who hangs out in the grass all day. But, at heart, he's a city slicker: a big, brash New Yorker.

Quote #6

Played the part that still looks back on the actor or actress,
The same old role, the role that is what we make it, as great as we like,
Or as small as we like, or both great and small. (lines 86-88)

The speaker suggests that the roles we play in public are more real than our private thoughts. Whitman seems to follow Ralph Waldo Emerson's philosophy of "self-reliance' in saying that our public roles are whatever we make of them. We can be Hamlet, Polonius, or the guy who serves the drinks: the choice is ours.

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