Treasure Island

Walt Whitman

(31 May 1819 - 26 March 1892 / New York / United States)

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O Captain! My Captain!



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; 10
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; 20
Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!
But I, with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

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  • Sagnik Chakraborty (9/25/2014 1:57:00 PM)

    Since my childhood, I've always admired President 'Honest Abe' Abraham Lincoln hugely, and together with him, this poem. This was the first poem of Whitman that I read, and even after I read his other poems from 'Leaves of Grass' and started liking him even more, this one remains one of my most beloved Whitman poems. (Report) Reply

  • Michelle Claus (7/2/2014 10:57:00 AM)

    My first introduction to this poem was in the film Dead Poets Society - particularly the lines O Captain! My Captain! Since then, I've loved this reverent phrase, and now,20-plus years after the film, I admire the poem even more than I did when I was younger. (Report) Reply

  • * Sunprincess * (5/13/2014 10:21:00 AM)

    ...........oh this is very sad, the captain dies just when he reaches port....sometimes for some this happens...just when you reach your dreams life ends....very impressive write... (Report) Reply

  • Wahab Abdul (12/12/2013 3:41:00 AM)

    words and phrases such as grim and daring, weathered every rack, fearful trip, flag is flung, bugle trills, ribboned wreaths, and swaying mass cast a shadow over the celebration, much in the same way the dead cast a shadow over any victory in war celebration. (Report) Reply

  • Krishnakumar Chandrasekar Nair (11/8/2013 2:02:00 AM)

    I salute the captain who did sink
    To ensure his ship stayed afloat
    You are dead, but you wil foreverl live
    In this poem Walt Witman wrote......

    I welcome all ye poets to my page too for your esteemed comments (Report) Reply

  • Sami Murray (10/16/2013 12:43:00 PM)

    This poem is great...But its not the type on poetry i favor. I am more into nature poems. I only looked this up for my 10th grade english class. (Report) Reply

  • Anele Gxoyiya (8/11/2013 2:33:00 AM)

    I heard this poem for the first time in 1985 when I was doing Standard 7. My English teacher, Mr A. Doko was so passionate that his passion was contagious. I never forgot his teachings. (Report) Reply

  • Shahzia Batool (7/2/2013 12:21:00 AM)

    i heard this poem for the first time in a movie, DEAD POETS SOCIETY, the Academy award winner, since then the poem became my favourite...i can still hear that recitation..O CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN...a MUST watch! ! ! (Report) Reply

  • Buddha Buddie (4/11/2013 2:28:00 PM)

    When I was just a youngon, I would play with all sorts of toys like Barney stuffed animals and such...but one day I went fishin over yonder over dem hills ya know? ... Well as we was fishin, a dun big ol beaver jumped outer the grass and dun bit my nipple of me boddie! I just dun couldn't believe it so I ran home and iced that sucka for a couple of hours and it grew back...when I got in my room...I noticed dat da beava dun stole all mi toys! So dun ran back down to da lake over yonder ova dem dun hills! I got me some dumplings and through me in da water and waited...IT CAME! So I jumped in da lake and grabbed hold of dat beaver and bit dat dun beavers nipple off and he dun gave me my dun toys back! (Report) Reply

  • Buddha Buddie (4/11/2013 1:03:00 PM)

    Walt Whitman was a fantastic ball player in his day...he loved ice cream but his parents died when he was 10 from then on he lived on the streets and lived as bully (Report) Reply

  • Buddha Buddie (4/11/2013 1:01:00 PM)

    I'm beginning my own poem called how to be a Buddha buddie and love beavers at the same time (Report) Reply

  • Buddha Buddie (4/11/2013 11:44:00 AM)

    Big foot is real and so is Sasquatch u just have to believe in him and every night he will took u in.. (Report) Reply

  • Ryan Cao (12/19/2012 7:39:00 PM)

    “O CAPTAIN! My Captain! Our fearful trip is done, The ship has weathered every rack, the prize we sought is won; ” From just those first 2 opening lines of the poem, already, we start to feel the beat, the meter, the heart of the poem and how it keeps itself moving. Through the amazing imagery, an image of a magnificent, battered but victorious ship hauling in crates of gold comes to mind… however… because of the topic and nature of the poem itself, it is shaded and disrupted by a sadness of sorts… which leads only to more thinking and wondering about the human beliefs, connections with other texts, and most importantly, the message the author is attempting to get across…
    At a first glance/first read through, we can see sadness despite the victorious overexcitement that everyone else seems to be feeling, of course, and by the end, after 3 repeats of the same line, a sort of hopeless grief as the speaker says “Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells! ” But honestly, there is much more to it. For one, the rhythm and the beat of syllables, especially and specifically when read aloud, such as “But I, with mournful tread, walk the deck my Captain lies, fallen cold and dead.” In fact, among other reasons, the author purposely left out the implied word “where” in line 2, which with correct grammar should read “Walk the deck where my captain lies, ” just one of the many deeper details this poem seems to reveal so little of.
    Speaking of deep, the repetitiveness of the poem itself is simply another hint of the brilliant ideas behind the poem-it’s stressed so much that, to a certain extent, with the final 2 lines of each stanza, have a bunch to say… Because of the complex means and ways of society, it’s always nice to have simple morals to lead the complications out of the way and clean up life for us-such as expressed in this poem. Quoted from the actual poem, “From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won…” Simple everyday translation: Yay! Victory! However, as stated here, “…I, with mournful tread, walk the deck my Captain, lies, fallen cold and dead.” There is always, always, always a price no matter what, no matter how insignificant or inconsequential. Though that is the main one, there is actually a second, less obvious message woven through the poem: Even if/when the captain, leader, and/or the hero all die, there will always be hope, there will always be the future, and the world will always move on.
    Enough with ideas and symbols… Let’s move on to the somewhat less ideal… For some idiosyncratic reason, the poem reminds me of the amazing book Blood Ninja II. For obvious reasons, as stated by the titles of both works of literature, their plots have nothing to do with each other, but they do have things in common. The overall tone and mood of both writings is amazingly similar, both being melancholy, with a tinge of hopelessness, but always some resolve, some happy thought to back up the sadness with. Naturally, with this and other links, such as stated here: “O heart, heart, heart, O the bleeding drops of red, ” While a heart is mentioned, the drops of red make it sound painful, bloody, even, to an extent… and while it is purely coincidental that the book is titled Blood Ninja II, the symbolic nature of blood in both scenes is similar, standing for death and the heartbreak it brings with it.
    The poem is all for that, and more, however, because symbolic morals are found everywhere-even seemingly decorative lines such as “Rise up-for you the flag is flung-for you the bugle trills…” Show the ignorance displayed in the human world today, as well as the irreversible reality of death. Of course, overall, this amazing poem can do nothing less than inspire us and let us aspire to become and think more like Mr. Whitman himself… because of it, I will leave the rest to the beauty of the poem and say, “Well done! ” (Report) Reply

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