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O Captain! My Captain! Poem Analysis

Clayton Whitt, Josh Syre, Gavin Kennard 7th Period
by

Clayton Whitt

on 11 January 2013

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Transcript of O Captain! My Captain! Poem Analysis

Sonic Analysis How do the words contribute to the tone and meaning?
- The words contribute to the tone of the poem by seeming to be a joyous occasion by using words such as “the prize we sought is won” and “the people all exulting”. However, in reality the Captain is actually dead giving it more of a bittersweet/sad tone. The way he changes that tone so drastically is at the end of each paragraph he says something similar to “Where on the deck my Captain lies, Fallen cold and dead”.
Thematic Connection Consider the universal and personal appeals

The poem Whitman wrote was to mainly honor Abraham Lincoln: the captain is Abe himself, and his vessel is his country. He guides the ship to the port: otherwise known as the end results of the Civil war. He has brought an end to inhuman slavery, but sacrificed his own life to let the goal succeed.
By: Clayton Whitt, Josh Syre, and Gavin Kennard O Captain! My Captain Tonal Analysis What sensory responses are evoked by the sounds?
- Paragraph one.
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.

The first paragraph makes a picture for the reader of a ship that just came back from a journey with a prize won from a foe. They are just returning home to a port full of people with bells ringing loudly; everyone on the port has their eyes fixated on the ship. However, the woes of the sailor who found the Captain’s body bleeding, and fallen dead. Artistic Connection What does the poem make you think of?
I think of a more bittersweet theme to the poem: one of the men is exclaiming that they’ve reached their targeted destination, a port, where everyone is crowding up nearby to see them arrive, yet the captain of the ship died after their voyage.

What other form of art is linked to this theme?
Political cartoons

Elucidate the connections
They make us laugh, but they also make us realize how the government is actually pretty corrupt.
Poem Analysis In what ways do the sound of the words contribute to the understanding of the poem?
- The sounds of the words create an imagery of bells ringing, and people cheering, “The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting”. These give you the picture of a ship sailing in a port, bells ringing, and people all cheering. The words and their sounds help promote sensory feelings that help create a picture in the readers head. The words and their sounds also promote the tone. The above quote promotes that it is a happy time, but the quote “Walk the deck, my Captain lies, Fallen cold and dead” promotes the bittersweet tone. -Paragraph two
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 the 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!
The arm beneath your head,
It is some dream that on the deck,
You’ve fallen cold and dead.

The second paragraph gives you the sensory of the sailor trying to pull the Captain’s dead body up as though he still believes he is alive. The flag is flying in the air, the bugles play for him, and the crowd is throwing flowers and ribbon tied wreaths up in the air. The mass of people are now turning to face the ship in admiration and joy. Then the sailor is putting his arm underneath the Captain’s head and revering him as a father. Then once again the sailor thinks that he is once more in a dream but, sadly the Captain is dead. -Paragraph three.
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.

Paragraph three presents the image of the Captain now being drained of life as seeming pale and still and, he can’t feel the sailor’s arm and really has no will to do so. The ship is anchored and safe in the voyage is now over with and the ship was the victor of the trip. People still exulting, bells still ringing, the sailor is no longer trying. He walks the deck, accepting the fact that his Captain lies dead. Listen to the poems being recited, with an ear to how the performer has adopted the different tones of voice over the course of the poem.
Mark, visually, where and when those shifts of the tone occurred
Line 4 going into 5 The tone changes from joyous to shocked “While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring; But O heart! heart! heart!“.
Line 8 going into 9 The tone changes from shocked to desperation “Fallen cold and dead. O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells”.
Line 12 going into 13 The tone changes from desperation to denial “For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning; [...] It is some dream that on the deck”.
Line 16 going into 17 The tone changes from denial into acceptance “You’ve fallen cold and dead. My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still [...] he has no pulse nor will”.
LIne 20 going into 21 The tone changes from acceptance into moving on with what happened “My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still, But i with mournful tread, Walk the deck my Captain lies”



Use a rich and varied tone vocabulary to name each shift in tone, looking up words you do not know (words used in the shifts, (acceptance, denial,etc.) Write instructions to a classmate on how he or she should recite the poem with evidence to support why this series of tones of voice is correct
- Starting with the first paragraph the classmate reading this poem should recite the first four lines with a joyous tone, Search for other pieces of literature, both poetry and prose, that share the same ideas ----> The Martyr - Herman Melville

Good Friday was the day
Of the prodigy and crime,
When they killed him in his pity,
When they killed him in his prime
Of clemency and calm—

When with yearning he was filled
To redeem the evil-willed,
And, though conqueror, be kind;
But they killed him in his kindness,
In their madness and their blindness,
And they killed him from behind.
There is sobbing of the strong,
And a pall upon the land;
But the People in their weeping
Bare the iron hand:
Beware the People weeping
When they bare the iron hand.

He lieth in his blood—
The father in his face;
They have killed him, the Forgiver—
The Avenger takes his place,
The Avenger wisely stern,
Who in righteousness shall
What heavens call him to,
And the parricides remand;
For they killed him in his kindness,
In their madness and their blindness.
And his blood is on their hand.

There is sobbing of the strong,
And a pall upon the land;
Bare the iron hand:
Beware the People weeping
When they bare the iron hand.
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