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Oh Captain, My Captain!

By: Walt Whitman
by

Sudarshan Thirumalai

on 10 November 2015

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Transcript of Oh Captain, My Captain!

Oh Captain, My captain!
- 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!
The 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.
Rhyme and Meter
Slant Rhyming
i.e Bells - Trills
Reminds us that it is a solemn poem
"Dirge"
A mournful song or hymn, usually for remembrance
Abraham Lincoln
Used in the early Christian Church
Written in Iambic Meter
Two syllable unit
Second syllable gets emphasized
Our
fear
-ful
trip
is
done
Amphibrach
O
Cap
-tain, my
Cap
-tain!
1 2 1 , 1 2 1
Walt Whitman
Born on May 31, 1819
Lived in Brooklyn and Long island
Largely self taught
Started teaching at 17
Published "Leaves of Grass"
Ralph Waldo Emerson praised his work.
Moved to Washington to visit his wounded brother
Civil War greatly affected him
He devoted himself to an American dream of equality for all races
IDEALIST
Saw slavery first hand
did not like father+ father was a heavy drinker
Helped in war hospitals
Admirer of Abraham Lincoln, and other presidents like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson
Analysis
Written during Civil War
Allusion to Lincoln's assassination
Mourning his death
He had faith in Abraham Lincoln
Ship represents voyage
United States = Ship
Parallels the people that suffered in the war
Mentally and physically
Families and soldiers
Captain represents Lincoln
Steer nation back to peace
Speaker calls captain as “dear father”
Bond between speaker and captain switches between leader and family
Country is brought together as a family, under one man.
Analysis (Cont.)
Written towards the captain(Lincoln) speaker: sailor, on board with his ship
Honoring the captain's work
Works for the captain
Also, the captain is like a father to him
"bells"- bells are sounded on ships when land is seen, Lincoln was bringing the country to land, its destination
Written right after the Civil War
Against Slavery
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.
1st Stanza
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!
The arm beneath your head!
It is some dream that on the deck,
You’ve fallen cold and dead.
2nd Stanza
3rd Stanza
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.
Full transcript