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