Tag Archives: Walt Whitman Crossing Brooklyn Ferry

morning thoughts

 

 

An email to my brothers and sister, yesterday morning:

 

Pete, Ralph, and Carol,

Listening to Mozart’s Masonic Funeral Music — on my iPhone, on the bus – this morning evoked sentimental, grave thoughts and feelings.

about Bill Dalzell

Grammy Handy

Mom and Dad

What they meant to me, how I appreciate some things about them in retrospect keenly.

What death means. My own. That of loved ones. Its inevitability. How death is a poignant part of life, as Walt Whitman said.

Roger

 

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addendum:

 

Another email to my siblings (August 15):

Probably platitudes

But

Is it because of Mozart that I am thinking thusly?

When I am enjoying life keenly, partaking of it, appreciate the most, it seems, being alive.

People … the day as felt (sun, breeze, grass, water, the elements) … books, thoughts, and music … the active life of the mind.

I think of those departed.

Real people who loved and appreciated those same things (and people) purely for them own sake; and enjoyed and partook of them the same … who lived in the moment…. those moments as they experienced them are sharp and indelible in my memory.

We got this from Mom and Dad; and I did from people like Bill who cared not a whit for externals.

Then I think to myself, at such times, that Mom and Dad aren’t here to enjoy these things; and friends like Bill, or Dr. Colp: and I can’t share my enjoyment and appreciation with them.

Then I feel their absence keenly, and feel the poignancy of it all.

Roger

 

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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.

— Walt Whitman, “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry “

 

— posted by Roger W. Smith

   August 15, 2021

the ferry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
photographs by Roger W. Smith

 

 

 

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The glories strung like beads on my smallest sights and hearings—on the walk in the street, and the passage over the river;
The current rushing so swiftly, and swimming with me far away;

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-stem’d pipes of steamboats, I look’d.

I too many and many a time cross’d the river, the sun half an hour high;
I watched the Twelfth-month sea-gulls—I saw them high in the air, floating with motionless wings, oscillating their bodies,
I saw how the glistening yellow lit up parts of their bodies, and left the rest in strong shadow,
I saw the slow-wheeling circles, and the gradual edging toward the south.
I too saw the reflection of the summer sky in the water,
Had my eyes dazzled by the shimmering track of beams,
Look’d at the fine centrifugal spokes of light around the shape of my head in the sun-lit water,

Look’d on the haze on the hills southward and southwestward,
Look’d on the vapor as it flew in fleeces tinged with violet,

The scallop-edged waves in the twilight, the ladled cups, the frolicsome crests and glistening,

Now I am curious what sight can ever be more stately and admirable to me than my mast-hemm’d Manhattan,
My river and sun-set, and my scallop-edg’d waves of flood-tide,
The sea-gulls oscillating their bodies, the hay-boat in the twilight, and the belated lighter*;

Flow on, river! flow with the flood-tide, and ebb with the ebb-tide!
Frolic on, crested and scallop-edg’d waves!

Gorgeous clouds of the sun-set! drench with your splendor me, or the men and women generations after me;
Cross from shore to shore, countless crowds of passengers!
Be firm, rail over the river, to support those who lean idly, yet haste with the hasting current;
Fly on, sea-birds! fly sideways, or wheel in large circles high in the air;
Receive the summer sky, you water! and faithfully hold it, till all downcast eyes have time to take it from you;
Diverge, fine spokes of light, from the shape of my head, or any one’s head, in the sun-lit water;
Come on, ships from the lower bay! pass up or down, white-sail’d schooners, sloops, lighters!

 

— excerpted from Walt Whitman, “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry”

 

 

* A lighter is a flat-bottomed barge used to transfer cargo to and from ships in harbor.

 

 

— Roger W. Smith

   January 2018