Theme of Human Connections in Walt Whitman's Poem ‘Crossing Brooklyn Ferry’: Critical Essay

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The poem ‘Crossing Brooklyn Ferry’ by Walt Whitman focuses on human beings as social creatures by stating that humans are connected through life and their interactions with one another.

Whitman shows this in the poem in paragraph 3 where it is stated, “I am with you, you men and women of a generation, or ever so many generations hence;/ Just as you feel when you look on the river and sky, so I felt;/ Just as any of you is one of a living crowd, I was one of a crowd;/ Just as you are refresh’d by the gladness of the river and the bright flow, I was refresh’d;/ Just as you stand and lean on the rail, yet hurry with the swift current, I stood yet was hurried;/ Just as you look on the numberless masts of ships and the thick-stemm’d pipes of steamboats, I look’d” (Whitman, 22-27 ). The author is saying that whatever emotion the audience is feeling then, even if they are from different eras, he also felt that too. This is to show the relationship between the author and any and everyone who has ever been to that region share a common feeling, simply because they live in a common society, and also because they will be passing the same area, and will see the same river and natural things that he saw during his own course of this journey. Whitman uses ‘just as’ several times to emphasize the fact that they will have emotions that are alike.

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In paragraph 4 he says: “These, and all else, were to me the same as they are to you;/ I loved well those cities;/ I loved well the stately and rapid river;/ The men and women I saw were all near to me” (Whitman, 50-54). The poet is additionally trying to say that he has a mutual feeling with the people in that region, just because they have visited this area, although they do not know each other they have established a bond. The poet specifically uses the words ‘near to me’, this just draws more attention to the fact that the poet is stating how close humans are to one another, even if they are not aware of it. The ferry which is being mentioned in the poem symbolizes the connection between human beings. This is because the ferry is the vehicle being used to transport people from separate generations to places. This helps to establish a connection between humans, meaning that even though they might not know each other, they have a simple connection through the ferry which is similar to life as an experience.

In paragraph 6, the poet says: “I too lived, Brooklyn of ample hills was mine;/ I too walk’d the streets of Manhattan Island, and bathed in the waters around it;/ I too felt the curious abrupt questionings stir within me;/ In the day, among crowds of people, sometimes they came upon me” (Whitman, 60-63). The poet is trying to further explain that although times might change, people will rarely change. A famous proverb says: “There is nothing new under the sun”. This adage explains the central message that the poet is trying to communicate with the readers of the poem, which is that something that is occurring now has previously taken place and most likely will occur in the future. This repetition of the past helps to depict the social world that we live in, all because similar activities are taken place over and over again, without anyone or thing forcing these events into place, except human connections to each other and their surroundings.

To sum up, everything that has been stated so far in the poem ‘Crossing Brooklyn Ferry’, perfectly shows how the social world and human interactions work, hand in hand. Things and people may change, but nature and emotions will remain the same.

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Theme of Human Connections in Walt Whitman’s Poem ‘Crossing Brooklyn Ferry’: Critical Essay. (2023, November 15). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 20, 2024, from
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