March 2, 2005

American Liberties

Hart Crane's "To Brooklyn Bridge" and David Lehman's "The World Trade Center" shared some similarities. Both focus on two New York City landmarks~ The Brooklyn Bridge and World Trade Center.

Although I have not yet been to New York, I have always thought the Brooklyn Bridge to be significant. If you are interested in seeing what is so special about it, this is a current NYC attraction site to the Brooklyn Bridge. It includes a lot of great information and gives you a sense of the views you can see from it.

"When it was completed in May 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge was the largest suspension bridge in the world. It is considered one of the greatest architectural accomplishments of the nineteenth century, and is, in fact, a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark." There is a lot of historical information regarding the bridge, and after reading it, I can see why Crane chose to focus on it. This was a great achievement to the Industrial period and seemed to watch over the city. Crane's imagery and personification of the bridge comes alive in this poem. It also gives the bridge a sense of Liberty... the Brooklyn Bridge reflects hard work and accomplishment for America during a time of change.

David Lehman's poem definitely hit home for me, as well as many of my classmates. Every American can probably feel the significance of this writing after the events of September 11, 2001. Although this had been written years before the attacks, Lehman is honest to tell his feelings about the towers before the 1996 bombing. "I never liked the World Trade Center. When it went up I talked it down, as did many other New Yorkers. The twin towers were ugly monoliths that lacked the details the ornament the character of the Empire State Building and especially the Chrysler Building, everyone's favorite..." "The World Trade Center was an example of what was wrong with American architecture, and it stayed that way for twenty-five years until that Friday afternoon in February..."

I had never known New Yorkers to be appalled by the Twin Towers architecture and height before reading this. The bombing made the World Trade Center "a great symbol of America, like the Statue of Liberty." This is how attacks on our country bring people together and show our love for our surroundings. Although one can argue that the towers were "ugly monoliths" that "lacked the details, ornament, and character" of surrounding buildings, it is within our great country and the attack caused Lehman, and probably many others, to view it differently.

This poem has probably grown in popularity since the attack on September 11, and it now carries more meaning (for me) than if I had read it before. Although Lehman had no way of knowing what would ultimately happen to the World Trade Center, it is quite interesting how later events shape older writings, such as this one. I am glad that the unfortunate 1996 bombings made people appreciate the twin towers, for they would only stand in the city for several more years.

Posted by KaylaTurano at March 2, 2005 8:03 PM

Kayla, I like that you dipped into the historical perspective on these landmarks. I haven't been to NYC either... and I don't know when I'll get there. I love traveling, but I never have time or money to do it often!

Anyway, I'm glad that you mentioned the second attack on the World Trade Center. That has a special meaning to me for personal reasons, I guess. I wonder what would be different for someone if they'd only read the poem before--what did people think about it before 9/11? Obviously it's gained attention since then, but what about someone that read it before and has now read it AGAIN afterwards? That would be neat to learn about, but I don't know how I'd find exact people with those requirements :-/

Posted by: Karissa at March 2, 2005 10:03 PM

Karissa... Perhaps if we look online at forums about this poem we would find people who had read it in the past. I am sure people have discussed this poem before and after 1996 as well as after 9/11/01. We could then see track them somehow (by e-mail or a screenname) and find out if they had given it a second thought ? That would be really interesting.

The World Trade Center carries so much meaning to people all over the world for many different reasons. Whether it has affected someone personally because of a friend or family member or because of the innocent lives lost and ability for us to sympathize with this uncomprehendable act of hatred and evil... I remember watching the news coverage in school the day the towers were hit. It was simply uncomprehendable for me to understand what had happened. It still doesn't really sink in. It's a loss for everyone... It affected us then, and the memories affect us now. This tragedy has brought our country closer together. I will never forget the sincere patriotism that was shown almost immediately following the attacks. It was a wake-up call to many.

Regardless, this poem is incredibly powerful and carries a significance that is worth discussing. Thank you for your input. Maybe over break I will look for some feedback regarding this poem prior to 9/11/01.

Posted by: Kayla Turano at March 2, 2005 10:52 PM
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