Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Walt Whitman's Fine Poem

I won the prize for being the first to memorize this Walt Whitman poem when I was in the Seventh Grade at Ina Grade School. Oh Captain, My Captain! As I remember it I also got a warm cookie from the oven when I gave the lunch count and money to Goldie Lee and Della Dunbar.

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.

Through poetry we learned to feel the pain and gravity of the nation after Lincoln was shot.Whitman uses the image of the ship's captain as the President of the country having taken the ship of state through the very perilous times of the Civil War to its end but he did not live to enjoy the fruit of peace. He write about the feeling of joy yet sorrow.

"From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won;
Exult oh shores, and ring oh bells,
but I with mournful tread,
Walk the deck the captain lies,
Fallen, cold and dead."

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