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What is the literal interpretation and the symbolic interpretation of Walt Whitman's "After the Sea-Ship"?

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The literal reading and interpretation of Walt Whitman’s “After the Sea-Ship” is a very detailed description of the impact that a sailing vessel has on the ocean. In characteristically lush and detailed language, Whitman describes what becomes of the ocean during and after a ship sails by.

There are probably very many ways to interpret this poem figuratively because it is so bold and expansive, and yet without a clear moral message. One symbolic interpretation could be of the passing ship as a metaphor for what mankind has done to the earth. That is, the ocean was doing what the ocean does, its usual waves and flows, and then a manmade vessel came by and made it dramatically choppy. “Where the great vessel sailing and tacking displaced the surface” points to just such a reading. Mankind has changed how the earth and sea behave...

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