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Crossing Brooklyn Ferry: One And The Same

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407 words
Poetry & Poets

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Walt Whitman asks himself and the reader of the poem, "Crossing
Brooklyn Ferry," what significance a person's life holds in the scope of
densely populated planet. The poem explores the difficulties of
discovering the relevance of life. The methods that helped Whitman grasp
his own idea of the importance of life are defined with some simple yet
insightful and convincing observations. By living under and for the
standards of others, a person can never live a fulfilling life.
Distinguishing oneself from the mobs of society can be next to impossible
when every other human is competing for the same recognition with their own
similar accomplishments. The suggestion that Whitman offers as a means of
becoming distinguished, or obtaining an identity, is to live a life of
self-satisfaction. The persuasive devices in "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry"
successfully communicate Whitman's own theory of breaking the molds of
society by living as a self-satisfying individual.

What makes one person's life different from the next? Whitman
leaves the apprehension that the distinguishing characteristics are few.
Whitman informs the audience that he has lead the same life as they, who
lead the same life as their children will and their ancestors did. The
poet questions the significance of a person's achievements by asking, "My
great thoughts as I supposed them, were they not in reality meagre [sic]?"
It would be hard for any person to measure their self-accomplishments on
the planetary scale which Whitman is speaking of. The second verse of the
poem introduces the metaphor of the world being a "simple, compact, well-
joined scheme" with the people dissolved into the "eternal float of
solution." Like the mechanical"scheme" that Whitman refers to, much of the
poem consists of topics that possess a repetitive or mechanical quality.
Sunrises, sunsets, tides, seasons, circling birds, the daily New York
commute on the Brooklyn Ferry, and the cycling of generations are woven
into the poem. A substantial amount of stanzas in the poem all begin with
the same word. The continuous use of repetitive imagery conveys the
feeling that our existence is in fact part of an infinitely moving machine
that has no purpose or destination. By using these devices, Whitman shakes
his audience with the convincing notion that life as it ...

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