Poem of the Day: O Captain! My Captain! by Walt Whitman


O CAPTAIN! my Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.


O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills;
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding;
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head;
It is some dream that on the deck,
You’ve fallen cold and dead.


My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won;
Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!
But I, with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.


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One Response to Poem of the Day: O Captain! My Captain! by Walt Whitman

  1. Nice blog about the poem, which I always enjoy reading again. It is one of Whitman’s most famous poems and justly so. But there is more to it than you realize. The central metaphor that Whitman uses was drawn from a dream Lincoln had the night before his assassination. He told the members of his cabinet about it the morning of April 14, 1865, not realizing that it was a portent of his own death and not of Union victory. Within days of his assassination word of that final dream became public knowledge. I wrote about it in my recent book The Paranormal Presidency of Abraham Lincoln, but probably most biographers of Lincoln for the past 150 years have mentioned it in passing. Anyway, it is a beautiful poem with a most uncanny origin.

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