“Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” was so named in the third edition of Leaves of Grass, published in 1860. It had first appeared in the previous edition (1856) under the title “Sun-Down Poem”, but Whitman renamed it, along with other earlier poems, when the prospect of a greatly expanded third edition gave him scope for significant changes, not the least of which was the ordering and grouping of both old and new poems according to more deliberately thematic principles.
Rightly described as Whitman’s “best-known urban poem” (Reynolds, p.109), “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” offers an especially revealing view of the cities on either side of the East River. Whitman was a frequent – often daily – commuter between Brooklyn and Manhattan and the ferry journey was always a great
Citation: Spencer, Luke. "“Crossing Brooklyn Ferry”". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 12 June 2018 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=38850, accessed 09 December 2023.]