Dalya Arussy's Writing New York Blog

Journal Entry 8- The Experience Transcends Time
September 16, 2010, 2:50 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I think the most obvious connection is between Mumford and Whitman, not only because Mumford comments specifically on this poem, but also because he describes a similar experience in a very different way. Like Whitman, Mumford is describing an overwhelming and overall exciting experience of crossing the Brooklyn Bridge. They both portray the scene before them and around them by describing the sensations they feel through all five senses.

What is even more interesting is the contrast between them. Whitman is of the opinion that his experiences can transcend time and that all that is visible to him, “fifty years hence… a hundred years hence… others will see.” He repeatedly comments on future generations and how his experience is a shared experience that “distance avails not, and place avails not.” While Whitman focuses on the commonness of his feelings, Mumford stresses the rarity of them. Mumford asserts that “even the most active imagination could hardly evoke now” the sensations that that late 19th century- early 20th century experience created. Not only that, but Mumford writes his “The Brooklyn Bridge” in 1981, several decades after the experience has happened. Whitman, on the other hand, not only writes this around the time of the experience, but also continues to revise his work until his death, as he probably continues to go through that experience of crossing time and time again. Mumford writes his prose as a yearning to a far off time and therefore stresses the rarity and the unlikeliness that it could happen again; whereas Whitman continues to express these ongoing sensations and therefore believes they can transcend time.

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