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To Brooklyn Bridge

To Brooklyn Bridge


by Hart Crane

Stanza 2 Summary

Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.

Lines 5-6

Then, with inviolate curve, forsake our eyes
As apparitional as sails that cross

  • In the first stanza, the seagulls took flight near the bridge and passed by the Statue of Liberty.
  • Now the birds disappear from sight completely, they "forsake our eyes."
  • The flight of the birds continues to have a "curved" shape. The curve is unbroken, or "inviolate."
  • The curve implies smoothness, continuity, and of course the shape of the suspension bridge.
  • You could also read "inviolate" also "in violet," the color of early dawn. Crane loved wordplay – get on board!
  • In the act of disappearance, the gull(s) are like ghosts, or "apparitions."
  • The gulls are also like the white sails of ships that cross the waters of the East River or Hudson Bay, then vanish out of sight.

Lines 7-8

Some page of figures to be filed away;
--Till elevators drop us from our day . . .

  • Pun alert! All of a sudden "sails" in line 6 can be read as "sales," like sales figures and graphs.
  • The seagulls are like the sales figures that pass under the eyes of an office worker in New York (home of Wall Street) all day long.
  • The figures must be "filed away" by a clerk. But they are transient, insubstantial, and ultimately, perhaps, meaningless.
  • The imagery of business and "the office" interrupts the Romantic opening of the poem.
  • An officer worker looks at sales figures all day until he takes the "elevator" down at the end of the day.
  • The elevator "drops" its riders like an impersonal act of abandonment. It's less a leisurely ride and more like the Tower of Terror from Disney World.
  • "Till" means "Until," but a "till" can also be a container for money.
  • A "page" can be an assistant to someone powerful – think of Kenneth, the office page from 30 Rock.
  • A chart of sales figures can have the same "curving" shape as the gull's flight, or the arch of a bridge.
  • Wow! Think of all the ground we've covered in just eight lines: dawn, seagulls flying out of view, ships sailing the bay, clerks filing papers, the hum of business life.

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