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"Crossing Brooklyn Ferry" by Walt Whitman In the poem Crossing Brooklyn Ferry Walt Whitman glorifies the eternity of life. Life, as the main theme, is viewed by the poet in many images of humans, natural and man-made environment. Diversity, mutability and constant motion of life are symbolized in ordinary things: sea-gulls, reflection of the summer sky (epithet) in the water, shimmering track of beams (metaphor), sailors at work, pilots in their pilothouses, grey walls of the granite storehouses (epithet) etc. Notwithstanding whether Whitman's images refer to animate or inanimate nature, all of them are easy to imagine, vivid, bright and specific.
Sea-gulls are Twelfth-month (epithet), floating in the air (metaphor) with motionless wings (to fly with motionless wings - oxymoron), and with oscillating bodies. However their bodies are not one-coloured, they are partly lit up and the rest in the strong shadow (metaphor), (lit up in the shadow antithesis). The mentioned features make sea-gulls very dynamic, changeable but at the same time motionless and calm, in other words contradictory, just like life itself. The author teaches a reader to understand the higher wisdom of diversity of life around us. Life consists of small and big things, vice and virtue, love and despair, enemies and friends, light and shadow. No one can judge what is meaningful what is not.
Man is to accept the endless list of reality and learn to love it. Walt Whitman shows the river as a symbol of life. The river is represented by the multitude of objects which are aimed at broadening the readers perception of mutability and diversity of live itself. The river is embodied in sea-gulls above it, floating in the sky, the haze on the banks, southward and south-westward, and the houses casting their flicker of black, wild red and yellow light; the river is also in all kinds of ships: vessels, schooners, sloops and large and small steamers, barges, hay-boats; working people: sailor, pilots; separated meaningful details: masts, hulls, pennants, wheels, flags. At the same time, the river has its own world which is also beautiful and intriguing: the scallop-edged waves in the twilight, the ladled cups, the frolic-some crests and glistening. Also the eternity of life in Walt Whitman's poem is realized through no limits in time and space.
The poet uses repetition to emphasize on it: it avails nit, time nor place distance avails not. More than that, the author reveals the great contradiction: though life is in constant motion, it does not change itself: past and future are similar, after one generation goes another, which will enjoy the same sunset and see the same river: A hundred years hence, or ever so many hundred years hence, others will see them, Will enjoy the sunset, the pouring-in of the food-tide, the falling-back to the sea of the ebb-tide. All in all, the poem Crossing Brooklyn Ferry is full with different literary devices which serve to cover the theme in most effective way. For instance, Walt Whitman uses anaphora (I see, Just as, Others will, Look on) to emphasize, for one thing, and to give a good flow to the melody of the poem, to add smoothness and make it similar to river itself, for another. The poetic language of Crossing Brooklyn Ferry is also rich with: similes, metaphors, metonymies, hyperbole's, personifications, antithesis, and rhetoric questions. For example: simile: The same old role, the role that is what we make it, as great as we like, Or as small as we like; metaphors: the run of the flood-tide, centrifugal spokes of light, fleeces tinged with violet.
Metonymy is used in the following: shipping of Manhattan, the heights of Brooklyn. Hyperbole is found in: Brooklyn of ample hills was mine. Personification is in the following: the fires cast their flicker over the tops of houses and down into the cleft of streets; I too felt the curious abrupt questioning stir within me, The dark threw its patches down upon me also. Antithesis: the tops of houses and the cleft of streets; the stately and rapid river; the time will come, though I stop here to-day and to-night. Rhetoric questions: What is it then between us?
What is the count of the scores or hundreds of years between us?
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Research essay sample on Crossing Brooklyn Ferry By Walt Whitman