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To Brooklyn Bridge

To Brooklyn Bridge


by Hart Crane

Stanza 4 Summary

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

Lines 13-14

And Thee, across the harbor, silver-paced
As though the sun took step of thee, yet left

  • The speaker addresses the bridge directly, using the old-fashioned "Thee" like you'd find in a Shakespeare play.
  • The poem is called "To Brooklyn Bridge" because it is literally addressed to the bridge: "Thee."
  • The bridge is across New York harbor from where the speaker is.
  • The bridge has a silver "paces" or steps. This is a tricky image: the speaker isn't talking about stairs, but about the impression of forward movement in the bridge's appearance.
  • A "pace" is also a kind of platform, so the metal bridge platform looks silvery.
  • It looks like the sun walked over ("took step of") the silvery bridge – or that the bridge is like a footprint impression made by the sun as it passes.

Lines 15-16

Some motion ever unspent in thy stride,--
Implicitly thy freedom staying thee!

  • The bridge looks like a moving thing, even though it doesn't move.
  • When the sun moved over the bridge, it left the appearance of "motion" in the bridge.
  • You can guess what he's talking about – suspension bridges like this could "move" because they just hang in the air with those curvy suspenders. They play tricks on the eyes.
  • The bridge is active and alive, not passive and dead.
  • But the bridge doesn't actively move – it is "stayed" or stopped. In terms of physics, it has potential but not kinetic energy.
  • There is a kind of contradiction in line 16: the bridge's freedom prevents it from moving.
  • Maybe the speaker means that the bridge hangs "free" in the air because of its wires, and those wires also keep it from moving.
  • At any rate, he has established the bridge as a symbol of freedom.

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