Crossing Brooklyn Ferry
by Walt Whitman
Crossing Brooklyn Ferry Spirituality Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (section.line)
We descend upon you and all things – we arrest you all,
We realize the Soul only by you, you faithful solids and fluids, (lines 137-138)
Like a fighter pilot closing in our target, we've got those slippery "things" in our sights. The speaker suggests that understanding the world is a matter of perception – that is, of seeing things in the right way.
You have waited, you always wait, you dumb, beautiful ministers! you novices!
We receive you with free sense at last, and are insatiate henceforward,
Not you any more shall be able to foil us, or with- hold yourselves from us,
We use you, and do not cast you aside – we plant you permanently within us,
We fathom you not – we love you – there is perfection in you also,
You furnish your parts toward eternity,
Great or small, you furnish your parts toward the Soul. (lines 141-147)
The speaker calls material things the true clergy – "ministers" and "novices" – of the spiritual world. For most of the poem, philosophical discussions like this one have been layered into the description of the view from the ferry. But here the spiritual element takes over completely. The physical world provides the "parts" – the building blocks – for traditional religious concepts like eternity and the Soul. This view would put the speaker at odds with many traditional Christian theologians, who would say that the soul exists apart from the world.