“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! ”
So full of atmosphere rhythm and pace, strongly dictated by this wonderfully talented writer.... I have never heard of this writer but am so glad i stumbled upon this wonderfully descriptive piece which i feel i have learnt something from...tyvm karen
‘O Captain! My Captain! ’ by Walt Whitman is an absolutely brilliant poem, so much to like and appreciate. From the opening lines 'O CAPTAIN! my Captain! our fearful trip is done; / The ship has weather'd every rack, the prize we sought is won; ' comes a sense of surprise that the ship has survived the perils of this terrible journey, intensified with the weather'd metaphor, that the ship has endured the hardships of every rack.
The contrast of the safe port so near with bells heard and 'the people all exulting, ' to 'follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring: ' sets up the shock of 'Where on the deck my Captain lies, / Fallen cold and dead.' This imagery links Abraham Lincoln to the shock loss of countless thousands who were slain upon Civil War battlefields. The intensity of the loss, echoes all the parents, siblings suffering who lost loved ones. The heart torn moan 'But O heart! heart! heart! / O the bleeding drops of red, ' seems to speak for Lincoln, all soldiers and casualties of the Civil War, and the bleeding state of the union. The symbolism suggests the nation is still bleeding.
The importance of the captain was immediately proclaimed with the first two words capitalized O CAPTAIN then the seeming sob of the personalized lower case ‘my Captain! ’, both outbursts heightened with exclamation marks, before the 'our fearful trip is done; ' highlighting the bond of companionship of shared dangers.
This is still only the first stanza, yet the 'steady keel' of the captains leadership is solidly established, while 'the vessel grim and daring: ' suggests both the resolute course sailed and the personality of Lincoln. Walt Whitman is a favourite master for all who read the rich depths of his words.
I am glad (in regards to mr. brookes comment) that not all of us can be Whitmans. The world would be so boring if everyone wrote like Walt. Only one of his poems sticks in my mind, this one about the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. The rest of his work is quite forgettable.
Seems to me there are too many people trying to show of there knowledge. This is a fine piece of writing by a master poet and one we should aspire to. However to put people's poetry down because its not up to this standard is ridiculous. I'm probably one of the writers that is being talked of in that way (notice I never said poet) We all have to learn and for me reading such poetry gives me such a buzz and teaches me what good poetry is, having said that we can't all be Whitmans. Sometimes just enjoy a poem without pontificating and just say Hey this is great and leave it at that! ! !
This is one of only a handful of poems by Whitman that I actually like. This deals with the death of our 16th president Abraham Lincoln. Whitman actually wrote a few of these including ' When Lilacs Last In The Dooryard Bloom'd' and 'This Dust Was Once The Man'. O Captain My Captain has always been my favorite whitman work, maybe because he actually tried to rhyme it.