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Quotes

Quote #1

These, and all else, were to me the same as they are to you,
I project myself a moment to tell you – also I return. (lines 50-51)

What's going on? Does the speaker have a split personality, or the power to be two places in once? We think he just doesn't make a distinction between his real self and his literary self. The voice we hear in our head when we read "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry" is the real Walt Whitman, just as much as the flesh-and-blood man. Or at least that's what he wants us to think as we read the poem.

Quote #2

I too had received identity by my body,
That I was, I knew was of my body – and what I should be, I knew I should be of my body. (lines 60-61)

Whitman chooses his words carefully: what does it meant to "receive" one's identity? Somehow the speaker understands himself by observing and living within his own body. Unlike philosophers and theologians who believed in a "ghost in the machine" – a strict division between body and soul – the speaker thinks the soul takes its cues from the body. He feels neither shame nor dissatisfaction with his body.

Quote #3

It is not upon you alone the dark patches fall,
The dark threw patches down upon me also, (lines 68-69)

His identity includes the "dark patches" or evil thoughts. Everyone, he says, is made up of this combination of light and darkness, good and evil. You can't separate the two from one another; for example, by saying that one is "innocence" and the other "guilty."

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