I heard a poem of his the other day while watching the PBS documentary about New York City and it peaked my interest in the guy. The documentary uses much of his work, as he was an early American-lover of NY -ahead of his time kind of writer. His poem, Crossing the Brooklyn Ferry, just captures the exact feeling of this city, even now. In a time before the Brooklyn Bridge, before Man had even envisioned building UP instead of OUT, Whitman seemed to comprehend this constant for all New Yorkers. Despite the changes to come for his New York and ours, this poem just gets it:
Flood-tide below ! I watch you face to face;
Clouds of the west! sun there half an hour high! I see you also face to face.
Crowds of men and women attired in the usual costumes! how curious you are to me!
On the ferry-boats, the hundreds and hundreds that cross, returning home, are more curious to me than you suppose;
And you that shall cross from shore to shore years hence, are more to me, and more in my meditations, than you might suppose.
(I skip some here)
I am with you, you men and women of a generation, or ever so many generations hence;
I project myself- also I return- I am with you, and know how it is.
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 refresh'd by the gladness of the river and 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.
NYC, Brooklyn and the Bridge.
Thanks to this poem and the documentary, I've discovered a new love for the city. I can't quite get into it here, but am grateful. I'm especially amazed, yet again, by the Brooklyn Bridge. The thing that got me, was hearing that at the time of it's opening, May 1883, it was the tallest thing around. In a city just four stories high, people, had never seen anything from that perspective before. Because of the strictly pedestrian pathway, to this day, we are able to get an unobstructed, awe inspiring view of the city. I just can't get over the extreme intelligence and fore thought of the early designers of our country!
Like Alexander Hamilton
Bringing it back to the current century, this band called Bon Iver is really rocking my world. Check out their myspace page to listen! The song "The Wolves" has the best yet most subtle use of that voice changing effect thing (that Cher made popular) ever. See if you can hear it and agree with me!