Interlinear Readings of The Bridge (1)

Proem: To Brooklyn Bridge (s. 1)

How many dawns, chill from his rippling rest
Overall, The Bridge is written in blank verse. In this line an inversion of stress occurs in the third foot, right after an intonational break, that is, strictly following Kiparsky's rule. chill and rippling echo each other, thus creating a crisply clear sharpness felt in his motions.

The seagull's wing shall dip and pivot him,
him is somewhat reflexive, or himself, here, since wing ultimately denotes the seagull. Between the terminal p of dip and the initial p of pivot is produced an interesting, stuttering, interval, recalling and enhancing the aural effect of rippling of the previous line.

Shedding white rings of tumult, building high
The inversion of stress (i.e. trochee) in the initial foot is quite common in iambic meter, following the natural break of the end of the previous line. white recalls and enhances the visual effect of dawns (l. 1). building is a crux; if we stick to its transitive meaning, it would mean "raising [Liberty]" or his rising makes us feel thay way; or, more loosely, it could mean "arising [toward the height of Liberty], recalling its rare intransitive meaning recorded in OED 8: intr. To take up one's abode, to dwell. Also, To arise, form. Obs.

Over the chained bay waters Liberty --
Why chained? It most certainly refers, directly, to the shades of bridge steels cast on the waters; while it indirectly connotes that the neighboring "waters" or the fluxes are "chained" by the bridge (cf. The Brooklyn Bridge. ) The Statue of Liberty is both literally "high" and ideally or morally "high"; the latter may be enhanced by its whiteness. On semantic level, chained and Liberty create a contrast between the state of bondage and that of liberation.

This is an interlinear reading of Hart Crane's The Bridge by Eiichi Hishikawa. Copyright (c) 1996 Eiichi Hishikawa.
The source of Crane texts is The Bridge (NY: Liveright, 1970). Copyright (c) 1933, 1958, 1970 Liveright Publishing Corporation.

Last updated: 31 October, 1996
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