Ibrahim Mfosah

Essay #2: Explication

English 1121(Prof. Scalan)

April 19th, 2020


Explication: “The Bridge”


Hart Crane’s poem “The Bridge,”(350) is a formal poem. It has eleven stanzas, and forty-four lines. The poem is a visual depiction of American life, using the Brooklyn Bridge as the centerpiece, or center image. The poet is painting a picture of Brooklyn at, or along the east river. Two lines from the fifth stanza really intrigues me. Line sixteen, and line seventeen are the first two lines of the fifth stanza. Picking those two lines from the poem, I will explicate them, and break them down as much as I can. The lines are, “Out of some subway scuttle, cell or loft/A bedlamite speeds to thy parapets.” These lines talk about, in a literal context, a lunatic moving around on a subway. 

Looking at the first line, “Out of some subway scuttle, cell or loft,” the meaning of the line can be found by looking at the denotation and connotations of the words. First word is “subway” which in the denotation means an underground railway. The connotation for this word is an underground route for pipes, sewers, etc. The common thing between these two meanings is that both refer to something underground, or below grade. The next word is “scuttle” which the denotation is, a container like an open bucket(usually for carrying coal). The connotation means, a small hatch or opening that provides access to the roof from the interior of a building. In the line the poet uses literary devices of assonance, alliteration, and consonance. An example of assonance in the first line is,  “Out Of sOme sUbway scUttle, cell Or lOft.” In the same line there is also evidence of alliteration as shown, “ out of Some Subway Scuttle, cell or loft.” 

Subway as commonly known is a means of transportation on a train running underground. A train is a carrier, which in this city carries millions of people to their destinations. So in this case, it could mean any of the New York City sewer systems which carries waste away from the city. Since New York City subway cars do not have scuttles, it is fair to conclude that whichever person came out of that place, was coming out of a sewer hole. As commonly known, not everything that comes out sewers are good. 

On to the second line, “A bedlamite speeds to thy parapets,” two words stand out. “Bedlamite” and “parapets.” Denotation of bedlamite is a lunatic, or a madman.The denotation for parapet as commonly known is a perimeter wall that extends above the roof. The second line does not have much of a sound devices evident, as is in the line sixteen. There is rather an example of assonance in the line. The example being, “A bEdlAmItE spEEds to thy pArApEts.” 

Linking this to the first line, it makes sense that maybe, a lunatic would emerge from the sewers, because that would be where he or she dwells. This may also have a completely different meaning, as many poems do. The explications above are the meanings I deduced in my opinion.   


(527 words)