Then, with inviolate curve, forsake our eyes As apparitional as sails that cross (lines 5-6)
The seagull is one of the central images of spirituality and the soul in
Walt Whitman's "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry," which inspired Crane's poem.
Crane picks up on the symbol at the beginning of "To Brooklyn Bridge."
Don't you love how poetry can turn something many people consider a
flying rat into a symbol of a person's deepest core?
And obscure as that heaven of the Jews, Thy guerdon . . . (lines 25-26)
The bridge gives a reward, or "guerdon," to its admirer. Its guerdon is
like the Jewish heaven from the Hebrew Bible or the Christian Old
Testament, which is to say that it's full of majesty and mystery. This
line marks the beginning of the poem's transition to a more spiritual
Terrific threshold of the prophet's pledge, Prayer of pariah, and the lover's cry,-- (lines 31-32)
Brooklyn Bridge is like something foretold in an old prophecy. If you
think about it, a prophet living 3,000 years ago probably would have
called you crazy if you'd told them there would one day be a
road hanging in the air over a large body of water. Crane encourages us
to look at the modern world with new eyes, to appreciate the marvels we
typically take for granted.
Again the traffic lights that skim thy swift Unfractioned idiom, immaculate sigh of stars, Beading thy path--condense eternity: (lines 33-35)
Once again Crane takes a very ordinary image – traffic lights on a
bridge – and turns it into a magnificent symbol of spirituality. The
lights are like "beads" that go on forever, i.e., "condense eternity."
Another way to read the image is that they are like stars that have
fallen to rest on the bridge, stars being an age-old symbol for heaven
And of the curveship lend a myth to God. (line 44)
Crane manages to elevate the bridge to mythic status while giving a kick
in the ribs to the Judeo-Christian tradition. He says that the bridge
should lend a "myth" to God, which suggests that God is lacking in
mythological significance. "Curveship" is a word invented by Crane to
express the bridge's special mythological qualities.