Michelle's blog

September 20th, 2010

Crossing Brooklyn Ferry

Posted by michellemartins in Uncategorized

In “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry”, Walt Whitman describes what to most people would be a normal aspect of life, which was riding the ferry, and turns this image into so much more. Through Whitman’s use of imagery and language when describing his personal experiences on the ferry, he’s able to convey important motifs that are present within his poem. One of the motifs that seemed to be of immense importance to Whitman was communion, or rather the relationship between the past and the future.  Whitman believed in this idea of unity between his generation and the generations to come.

We see the idea of communion between the past and the future come up throughout the course of the entire poem.  Whitman immediately draws our attention to this idea through his careful use of repetition of certain key words. For example, when in the first section he uses the words you and me. The you is referring to the future generations, and the me is referring to himself, which in this case would be the past generation. This pattern is not just seen in the first section, it is seen throughout the whole poem. Whitman also repeats the word others. We see this towards the end of section 2 and also in section 3. Here when Whitman says others he is also referring to the future generations. By using these words, he is able to include the readers in his poem. He is not simply describing his experience on the ferry, he is describing the experience that future generations will also have.

Through the use of powerful images Whitman is able to display his belief in the communion of past and future. “Fifty years hence, others will see them as they cross, the sun half an hour high, A hundred years hence, or ever so many hundred years hence, others will see them, Will enjoy the sunset, the pouring-in of the flood-tide, the falling-back to the sea of the ebb-tide” (section 2). Through the details provided here, the reader is able to create an image of what the scenery is while on the ferry. Whitman is describing how the scenery that he is seeing now as he’s on the ferry, will be the same things that the people in future generations will be seeing. Because of this, the past and future generations are connected.

Whitman also uses many other images to relate past and future generations. For example when he 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” (section 5). Once again Whitman brings these images to the reader that are timeless, no matter what generation you’re in you will still see the same things that he saw. His repetition and choice of language here adds to the communal affect. The repetition of “I too” helps to reemphasize the fact that what future generations will experience, he too has. The same is seen in section 3, when Whitman repeats “just as”. He says “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” (section 3). Powerful images here relate Whitman’s past experience on the ferry to future generations experiences. The images that are described are  ones of things that will always be there, they are a part of nature and they are timeless, no matter what generation it is, those images will always be present.

Through the imagery and language that Whitman uses in the poem, he is trying to say that there is a communion between past and future generations, he tries to bring out the fact the we’re all from the same place, and since we’re all from the same place, wouldn’t we all see the same images? We, that is past and future generations, all experience the same beauty around us, and we all take a similar journey while on this ferry.  By using communal words throughout his poem, such as ties between, I too, just as, just as you, and we, Whitman is able to relate his experience on the ferry to the experience that future generations will have.

September 4th, 2010

9/11 Memory

Posted by michellemartins in Uncategorized

It was just another normal day within our 4th grade classroom. Children sitting crossed legged around the numbered carpet. Our teacher began speaking, and we all listened. She explained what we would be doing that day in class. The clock struck half past eight. It was time to begin the day. We all made our way to our seats. Before you know it, the clock strikes nine. Ten more minutes and then the morning announcements would be heard. Nine fifteen comes around. No morning announcements had been made, yet our day continues on. The classroom is silent. A cell phone rings. My teacher grabs her cell phone, tells us she’ll be right back, and goes out into the hall. When she returns to the classroom there is a different vibe within the room.  Without saying a word, my teacher turns on the television. The image I saw when that television turned on will never be forgotten. There was a giant fire, and people running in all different directions. The looks on their faces said it all. Being the young, naïve, and overdramatic child that I was, I immediately thought that the world was coming to an end. It was hard to believe that something so horrible could happen somewhere so close to us.

During these moments, it seemed as if everyone suddenly understood each other. We were all in the same position As fourth graders we didn’t fully know everything but we all could agree that something wasn’t right, and that something horrible had just taken place.

Remembering that our teacher had left the room and returned to rush to go turn on the television without saying a word, we looked over at her to see if she was okay. She didn’t need to say a word for us to know how she felt. Her face said it all. She was in disbelief. When she finally spoke it was to another teacher who came rushing in and asked her “How is he?” How is he? We all thought to ourselves, who’s he? Is he okay?  Our teacher burst into tears. She finally responded, “He’s fine. He was so lucky, o gosh he was just so lucky.” She continued on to explain that her husband( finally we all knew who he was), was sent on a business trip to Delaware for a week and was supposed to return September 12th, so he was so fortunate to not be in the towers when tragedy had struck. After hearing this it made me wonder about if there were any other people I knew who may have been affected by this. Did anyone in my family know anyone? Was anyone in my family affected? I remembered that my dad was working in the city that day, was he okay? With all of these question running through my mind, I just remember wanting to get home as quickly as possible so I could go hug my mother and father. The clock struck nine forty five and finally an announcement. A voice that sounded so unfamiliar ran through the school. It was our principal, but she didn’t sound like the same cheerful, happy person that she was. In her serious tone she asked that all teachers and students report to the gymnasium.

In the gymnasium our principal explained that bad people had crashed an airplane into the world trade centers. I immediately thought to myself why would anyone do something like this? How could anyone do something like this? After talking to us, my principal got all the teachers together, and told them that we would spend the rest of the day in the gym just playing games. So we did as we were told, and remained in the gym and just played until it was time to go home. Those hours in the gym made me forget about everything that was happening. All I thought about was how lucky we were to be spending the whole day playing, and how this had to be the best day at school ever! This just goes to show you just how naïve and young we truly were. Once it was time to go home and once I actually got in my home reality struck again. I remembered and saw everything again. In my head I thought this definitely wasn’t the best day ever, in fact it was far from it.

Those images still remain embedded in my mind and will never be forgotten. I spent that night in my bed hoping that when I woke up in the morning I would awake realizing that the events from that day had all been part of a horrible nightmare and that none of it was actually true. Unfortunately as soon as I woke up the next morning i realized that what i wished was a nightmare was actually reality.

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