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 o 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 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.
Walt Whitman was born in Long Island, in the United States of America
in 1819. He started his career as an office boy in a law office in Brooklyn at
the age of eleven and then became a typesetter’s apprentice in a number of
print shops. He took to teaching for some time and started his own newspaper,
‘the Long Islands’. During 1850-1855 he focussed on his own work, ‘ Leaves
of Grass’ and continued to write. He died at the age of 72.
The poem, ‘O Captain! My Captain’ was published in 1865 and widely
anthologised during his life time. This poem is a rare example of his use of
rhymed, rhythmically regular verse, which serves to create a sombre yet
exalted effect. Whitman had envisioned Abraham Lincoln as an archangel
Captain and he wrote this poem as a dirge for the death of Abraham Lincoln.
The first line of the poem serves to begin the controlling metaphor
upon which the rest of the poem is built. In this poem, ‘Captain’ is a substitute
of Abraham Lincoln, and the ship is the United States of America. ‘The
fearful trip’ is the Civil War. The Speaker celebrates the end of the civil war
but continues to mourn the fallen hero.
The word POETRY originates from a Greek word meaning TO MAKE. A poet is thus a maker and the poem something that is made or created. No single definition of poetry is possible but some characteristic features of poetry may be mentioned. Poetry has a musical quality with rhythm, pitch, metre and it may use figures of speech such as simile and metaphor. While quite a few poems in this selection are in traditional forms, the unit also includes modern poems that are free from formal restrictions.
Here is a list of English Poems written by various authors. Whatever the question is, poetry may be the answer. Writers say poetry provides them with comfort, a way to express themselves and the discipline of finding the essence with few words. Writing the poem (and finding just the right word) is the measure of success that the authors use. Really good poetry is instinctive. It’s who you are. It’s from the heart. You need to expose yourself to all kinds of poets and you may find your motivation and muse that way. Poetry gets to the core meaning. Poetry expands ideas.