Two centuries ago, a child was born in the small hamlet of West Hills, Long Island. He would become, arguably, our nation’s greatest man of letters. Walt Whitman, who lived much of his life in Brooklyn and immortalized the borough in verse, was a titanic talent and national treasure, bringing an unprecedented sense of sensuality to the American poetic canon. For this month’s Miscellaneous — Athletics’ no-frills round-up of the cultural items that inspire us each month — we feature a poetic fragment of Whitman’s sonorous “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry,” and use the occasion of his bicentennial birthday to showcase other linguistic treasures from voices like Lindsey Hilsum (the only English-speaking foreign correspondent in Rwanda when that country’s genocide began), Hayes McMullan (the Delta Blues singer, songwriter, sharecropper, and civil rights activist), and Athletics’ own Brand Writer, Zander Abranowicz (who wrote for Kennedy magazine about a latter-day Grand Tour).
Stay tuned for more editions of Miscellaneous in the coming months.
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“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 Mannahatta! stand up, beautiful hills of Brooklyn!”
— From “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” by Walt Whitman (1856)
Header Image: “A Pic-Nic Party” by Thomas Cole, 1846