Day 7- Brooklyn & Brooklyn Bridge: Walt Whitman and Hart Crane

Hi All, here is the wonderful discussion we had this morning – about “Pies” then about Walt Whitman’s “epiphanic” (thank you Naomi!) depiction of New York in “Mannahatta”, followed by Hart Crane’s ecstatic description of Brooklyn Bridge. We also briefly compared Joseph Stella’s 1939 painting The Brooklyn Bridge (at The Whitney) with Hart Crane. So enjoy this listen:

And here some of the images we used during the tutorial. Click on them for enlargement:

 

 

And here now are some of the highlights of our tour today across Brooklyn and Brooklyn Bridge- haunt of both Whitman and Crane:

(Click here to read the poem from the text: https://whitmanarchive.org/published/LG/1881/poems/271)

 

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Rob (our tour guide for the day) at this point read us a beautiful short poem by Hart Crane who was living in this exact place overlooking the Bridge half a century after Walt Whitman had been here:

 

Here we walked through the back streets of Brooklyn to get to the start of the Bridge walk:

 

Just as we got on the Bridge Rob shared with us his research on a picture he had found in the Whitman library of original documents which showed what Brooklyn must have looked like back then:

On the Bridge I read the introductory poem “To the Bridge” with its wonderful use of language that brings the material world into contact with the ethereal and the transcendent: https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/brooklyn-bridge

 

And here is the first glimpse of those amazing “choiring strings” -as Hart Crane describes them:

O harp and alter, of the fury fused

(How could mere toil align thy choiring strings!)

 

From there the Bridge Walk brought fabulous perspectives of the physical elements that Hart Crane had transformed with his literary, visionary imagination:

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Rob had some more to share with us about the location of the Manhattan side of the Bridge:

And here is another engagement with those amazing “choiring strings” which led Crane in his last stanza to celebrate the almost superhuman presence of this Bridge in the New York landscape (go back to the audio recording of the tutorial for more comments on this aspect of the poem- at the start of this Blog):

O Sleepless as the river under thee,

Vaulting the sea, the prairies’ dreaming sod,

Unto us lowliest sometime sweep, descend

And of the curveship lend a myth to God.

Finally as you come off the Bridge into the Manhattan landscape one is greeted with this amazing array of fabulous architecture. Whitman in his “Mannahatta” speaks ecstatically of the “Numberless crowded streets, high growths of iron, slender, strong, light, splendidly uprising toward clear skies…” One wanders what he would have felt had he been transported forward in time to this amazing scene- would he have been able to respond at all, or would he have been totally overwhelmed by these “high growths of iron”:

Enjoy watching again the amazing walk and the amazing literature that has underpinned our experience today!!!!

 

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