What kinds of landscapes do we see in "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry" by Walt Whitman? What roles do the ferry and nature play in the poem?

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Whitman’s poem describes what he sees on a ferry crossing between Brooklyn to Manhattan. But the poem uses this landscape as a way of imaginatively casting himself into the future. Whitman’s description of his trip is addressed to “you that shall cross from shore to shore years hence”; there is something about the specificity of his experience, as captured in this poem, that enables him to directly address a future reader.

The things Whitman sees, of course, are the day-to-day workings of ships on the river; he sees the “Twelfth-month sea-gulls... oscillating their bodies”; he sees himself reflected in the water below, and “Look’d at the fine centrifugal spokes of light round the shape of my head in the sunlit water”; he also sees the people aboard their passing boats, the “sailors at work in the rigging” or the steamer pilots “in their pilot-houses,” and then, the “gray walls of the granite storehouses by the docks,” or, on shore, “the foundry chimneys...

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