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 refreshed by the gladness of the river, and the bright flow, I was refreshed
I went for a walk to the banks of the Hudson, where 225 years ago George Washington bid a hasty nighttime retreat over these waters after the stunning upset in the Battle of Brooklyn.
We have our own Battle of Brooklyn now. And a battle for America.
I was heartened to see the Bridge, in all its glory, Mannahatta rising up behind, and in the distance (we're not there yet) the Statue of Liberty.
I thought of Hart Crane (of course!):
Under thy shadow by the piers I waited
in darkness is thy shadow clear.
The City’s fiery parcels all undone
And behind “The Bridge,” Whitman's “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” (1860), which stuns anew in such pracarious times as these:
... The current rushing so swiftly, and swimming with me far away,
The others that are to follow me, the ties between me and them,
The certainty of others — the life, love, sight, hearing of others.
Others will enter the gates of the ferry, and cross from shore to shore,
Others will watch the run of the flood-tide,
Others will see the shipping of Manhattan north and west, and the heights of Brooklyn to the south
Others will see the islands large and small,
Fifty years hence, others will see them as they cross, the sun half an hour high,
A hundred years hence, or ever so many hundred years hence, others will see them,
Will enjoy the sunset, the pouring in of the floodtide, the falling back to the sea of the ebb-tide.
It avails not, neither time or place — distance avails not,
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 are refreshed by the gladness of the river,
and the bright flow, I was refreshed. ...
Flow on, river! flow with the flood-tide, and ebb with the ebb-tide!
Frolic on, crested and scallop-edged waves!
Gorgeous clouds of the sunset! drench with your splendor me, or the men and women generations
Cross from shore to shore, countless crowds of passengers!
Stand up, tall masts of Mannahatta! — stand up, beautiful hills of Brooklyn!
Bully for you! you proud, friendly, free Manhattanese!
Throb, baffled and curious brain! throw out questions and answers!
Suspend here and everywhere, eternal float of solution!
Blab, blush, lie, steal, you or I or any one after us!
Gaze, loving and thirsting eyes, in the house, or street, or public assembly!
Sound out, voices of young men! loudly and musically call me by my nighest name!
Live, old life! play the part that looks back on the actor or actress!
Play the old rôle, the rôle that is great or small, according as one makes it!