Walt Whitman: Poems

Equality within Differences in Walt Whitman’s “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry”

Walt Whitman’s “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” is a poem that not only exposes the differences within the people and the geography of the nation, but also shows the theme of equality that unites these differences. Incorporating his experience with the Civil War as well as the industrial revolution of the United States, Whitman threads together the past and the future, promoting equality not only within time and distance, but in its attitude and thought. By examining the use of parallel structure and repetition, Whitman plays with the relationship between difference and equality. By focusing on the figurative language of rhetorical questioning, imagery in addition to the rhythm of action and movements, Whitman shows how equality can be established against the passing of time and the advancing nation. Ultimately, by examining the structure and the verb tenses utilized in the poem, Whitman shows how each part of the difference, whether it be people or landmarks, contributes to the perfected unity of the whole.

Focusing specifically on the first two sections of Whitman’s “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry,” one can see how the poet utilizes repetition of specific phrases in order to create a sense of overwhelming inequality, but also to establish a...

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