The Boathouse


Flow on, river ! flow with the flood-tide, and ebb with the ebb-tide !
Frolic on, crested and scallop-edg’d waves !
Gorgeous clouds of the sunset ! drench with your splendor me, or the men and women generations after me !
Cross from shore to shore, countless crowds of passengers !
Stand up, tall masts of Manhattan ! stand up, beautiful hills of Brooklyn !
Throb, baffled and curious brain ! throw out questions and answers !
Suspend here and everwhere, eternal float of solution !
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 role, the role that is great or small according as one makes it !
Consider, you who peruse me, whether I may not in unknown ways be looking upon you ;
Be firm, rail over the river, to support those who lean idly, yet haste with the hasting current ;
Fly on, sea-birds ! fly sideways, or wheel in large circles high in the air ;
Receive the summer sky, you water, and faithfully hold it till all downcast eyes have time to take it from you !
Diverge, fine spokes of light, from the shape of my head, or any one’s head, in the sun-lit water !
Come on, ships from the lower bay ! pass up or down, white-sail’d schooners, sloops, lighters !
Flaunt away, flags of all nations ! be duly lower’d at sunset !
Burn high your fires, foundry chimneys ! cast black shadows at nightfall ! cast red and
yellow light over the tops of the houses !
Appearances, now or henceforth, indicate what you are,
You necessary film, continue to envelop the soul,
About my body for me, and your body for you, be hung our divinest aromas,
Thrive, cities - bring your freight, bring your shows, ample and sufficient rivers,
Expand, being than which none else is perhaps more spiritual,
Keep your places, objects than which none else is more lasting.
You have waited, you always wait, you dumb, beautiful ministers
We receive you with free sense at last, and are insatiate hence-forward,
Not you any more shall be able to foil us, or withhold yourselves from us,
We use you, and do not cast you aside - we plant you permanently within us,
We fathom you not - we love you - there is perfection in you also,
You furnish your parts toward eternity,
Great or small, you furnish your parts toward the soul.

"Crossing Brooklyn Ferry," Part IX - Walt Whitman

Photography by Mario Peralta


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