Explication of “O Captain! My Captain!” “O Captain! My Captain!” is one of the most popular poems ever written by Walt Whitman. Upon the initial reading of this poem, one may perceive the poem to be about a loyal captain who leads his crew on a treacherous, but successful, voyage which ends in devastation. If interpreted literally this is the poem’s only meaning, but for those who look further there is an underlying story behind the words of Whitman. Whitman uses multiple literary elements throughout this poem in order to unmask the story of Abraham Lincoln’s journey and ultimate death as a result of the Civil War and his fight to end slavery. The title of the poem, “O Captain! My Captain!” , insinuates that the poem will be centered …show more content…
The speaker states, “Rise up – for you the flag is flung- for you the bugle trills” (line 10). This is interpreted as the ending of the war due to the patriotic symbolism of the flag which stands for freedom and also victory. Within this stanza, the importance of the captain is now extended from just the speaker to all those who await the ship’s arrival. This is demonstrated as the speaker states, “For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning” (lines 11-12). The joyful tone of the stanza ceases towards the end as an unexpected downfall of emotions begins. Whitman uses repetition in lines 15 and 16 when he states “It is some dream that on the deck, / You’ve fallen cold and dead” (lines 15-16). This serves as a disturbing reminder that the figure which was most significant to the entire situation is no longer alive. The depressing realization of the captain’s death is evident and seen most within the last stanza as the tone changes from that of triumph and elation to heartbreak and grief. This is shown through Whitman’s use of imagery as the speaker states, “My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still, / My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will” (lines 17-18). This provides a detailed description of the lifeless captain as he lies on the deck. The following lines describe the successfulness of the mission as the captain has led his crew to safety after accomplishing the goals which were set. This alteration in tone
First of all, “O Captain, My Captain” uses extended metaphors, while “Shiloh: A Requiem” does not. Walt Whitman uses many extended metaphors, such as “Captain” referring to Abraham Lincoln, and “fearful trip” meaning the Civil War. This shows how “O Captain, My Captain” uses extended metaphors to give the poem a deeper meaning than it seems. Meanwhile, Herman Melville does not use extended metaphors in his poem. Additionally, “Shiloh: A Requiem” uses personification to convey the mood, and “O Captain, My Captain” does not. For example, Herman Melville uses the phrase “The church so lone” to help convey the mood. This shows personification because loneliness is an emotion, and an inanimate object cannot feel emotions. However, “O Captain, My Captain” does not use personification in the poem. In conclusion, this shows that the two authors use unique means to get their messages
When someone thinks “hero” they probably picture a burly man in a suit and cape, weaving between skyscrapers and saving small, screaming and vulnerable citizens from some evil force. Although not all heroes wear capes and fly around saving people, all heroes have a common virtue - the ability and willingness to sacrifice themselves for the good of others. Furthermore, heroes tend to follow a particular sequence of events, referred to as a “Hero’s Journey.” Abraham Lincoln was a hero because he follows Joseph Campbell’s “Hero’s Journey” and was a vehicle of change for the United States of America. Lincoln grew up in a very modest setting, and lived on the edge of poverty.
Captain Lincoln Steers the Ship to victory. “Where on the deck my captain lies Fallen cold and dead.”(7-8) This quote from the story refers to the assassination of President Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln was President during the Civil War, and is considered to be one of the greatest presidents of all time. President Lincoln was assassinated on April 14,1865 and was in a coma for 9 hours before he died. With the death of the President the nation lost it’s most important man and a great father and husband. The elegy “O Captain! My Captain!” by Walt Whitman is an extended metaphor about President Lincoln’s presidency because it compares Lincoln to a ships captain, the Union
Source One is about the journey of Lincoln in the Civil War and he’s trying to save America. In Source One it says “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.” In this poem Abraham Lincoln is the captain who is fighting through his trip, which is personified as the Civil War. The ship is the United States fighting through the brutal and dangerous war. Lincoln was the figure that most people followed, while some people hated him for giving rights to colored people. Even though he was said horrible things and the country divided for the freedom of slaves Lincoln still fought for what he thought was right. After Lincoln’s death and accomplishment of freeing slaves he didn’t get to see the happiness and and the honor he deserved. Furthermore, after the fearful trip was done, Lincoln was able to write the Emancipation Proclamation which gave everyone
Whitman wrote broad stanzas and focused on the whole of America as his inspiration. His lines covered a wide range of topics and generated multiple points of view for the reader. He called his life’s work “Leaves of Grass”; stressing the
In the early 19th century, slavery was legal and popular in the southern states, among these slaves, one slave in particular impacted the 19th century was Frederick Douglass. Although he was a slave for most of his life, Douglass eventually became a freeman, a social reform, writer, and an abolitionist for slavery. However, before he became a freeman, Douglass experienced a brutal life as a slave. He faced dehumanization in his early life, but accomplished what most slaves we not allowed to do; which is getting educated, by self-educating himself and retaliating against the idea of slavery. Furthermore, since he self-educated himself, he was able to published the narrative, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas; which, Douglass shows the audience how methods such as, physical abuse, psychological abuse, and lack of education were used to dehumanize slaves. He describes how he resisted these methods and realized that whites who participated in slavery themselves were being dehumanized.
"O Captain! My Captain! Our fearful trip is done; The ship has weather'd every rack, the prize we sought is won The ship is anchor'd safe and sound, its voyage closed and done; From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won " Walt Whitman's description of a ship weathering a powerful storm, and returning safe with its mission complete, perfectly illustrates the United States enduring the divisions of the Civil War. This poem is one of numerous commemorations to the sixteenth president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. Merrill D. Peterson, author of Lincoln in American Memory, examines an interesting variety of sources, including statues and prints made of Lincoln over the years in addition to the numerous biographies
In the poem Lincoln is the captain of the ship, which is an analogy of Lincoln’s leadership to this country. When Abraham Lincoln died it was like the captain of the “ship of America” died. Lincoln was such a good leader that his death almost made people feel helpless and in denial. The last three lines of “O Captain! My Captain!” are an example of how Lincoln’s death affected Whitman: “But I, with mournful tread, / Walk the deck my Captain lies, / Fallen cold and dead.”.
On the night of the awful tragedy an unreal action occurred in the box at the theater. Watching was the greatest man of his time in the glory of the most stupendous success story in our history. He was the idolized chief of a nation already mighty, and a symbol to all of the grandeur of a great nation. Quick death was to come on the central figure of that company -- the central figure of the great and good men of the century. The shot heard around the country would not die in a whimper. The gloom that had traversed the streets of Washington was the same feeling of vague terror and sorrow, which had spread throughout the entire country. Colonel Burnett, assigned to the
“O Captain! My Captain!” celebrates patriotism, admiration, and democracy. Although Lincoln’s death means the death of Whitman’s “Redeemer President,” Lincoln’s death proved for Whitman to be the universal and religious significance of the war; it was democracy’s crucifixion. In his book, Walt Whitman’s America: A Cultural Biography, David Reynolds writes, “Essentially, the death of the president encapsulated the entire meaning of the war and proved its sacred quality” (Reynolds 434). In contrast, another of Whitman’s Civil War poems “Beat! Beat! Drums!” Whitman focuses on the less-glorious side of
Walt Whitman was a man full of adventures yet filled with many questions about Historical events and Religious matters. His curiosity pushed him to pursue his questions and made him ponder on them, influencing him to write many poems that spoke about the blinded truth. His poems increased his fame as critics talked about him despising the fact that many Americans loved him. The Civil war was propounding for him due to his pride for his country and the lives fighting for it. Walt Whitman’s experience in the Civil war with the wounded soldiers and his alcoholic father inspired him to write about the tragedies of the war and about mental instability.
This is particularly interesting as Whitman alters the grammatical structure of the lines to avoid using personal pronouns, thereby eliminating the presence of the persona to focus merely on the dead. As the persona goes on to state, the poem is a "vigil for you my son and my soldier" (14) and Thomas N. Wynn describes the poem as "partly the desire to ensure that the battlefield dead are individually recognised, remembered and mourned. "1 Yet Whitman also brings intimacy and individuality to the soldiers in his poetry by splicing the general descriptions of the war with his own personal accounts; it has been suggested by Wynn that the description of the weeping mother in 'First O Songs for the Prelude' mimics an undoubtedly similar image of Whitman's brother George saying goodbye to his family upon enlisting. One of the more arresting and powerful uses of anonymity and biographical experience in the collection can be seen
Structure varies from poem to poem, and “O Captain! My Captain!” and “Because I could not stop for Death” each have their own unique structure. Whitman wrote “O Captain! My Captain!” in Octaves. In each octave Whitman writes four long lines followed by four short lines. Whitman also writes the entirety of “O Captain! My Captain!” in free verse. Dickinson writes “Because I could not stop for Death” in quatrains instead of octaves. Dickinson’s poem is unrhymed, but not free verse, because she writes it in alternating iambic tetrameter and iambic trimeter.
President Abraham Lincoln, admired by Walt Whitman, blossomed in “Whitman's writing and in American mythology”(Eiselein) for his leadership and nobility. Whitman hoped for a rugged, healthy, who knew what real, physical work was, to be the “[r]edeemer [p]resident of [t]hese [s]tates”(Whitman). His hopes came true “as in a dream”(Whitman) when “four years later, just such a beard-faced boatman”(Goodheart) entered the White House. Walt Whitman discovered the “comprehensive, all-directing soul he had long been seeking”(Reynolds) in Abraham Lincoln’s life. Therefore Whitman, a patriotic American, would see Lincoln’s death as not only a grave tragedy but also a “promise [of] ultimate purgation and unification for America.”(Reynolds).
Within The Ship Starting, there are three notable instances of repetition. For one, the word “ship” occurs three times (including in the title). Given that ships are the topic of interest in the poem, this instance of repetition has the basic effect of bringing the locus of the text back to the title, or central theme. The second example can be observed in the second and third lines, where the word “sails” is followed by “moonsails,” a made-up compound version of the former word. Using the same word twice, and in this case, by adding on and modifying its second appearance, the reader is likely to acquire a clear picture of the scene that Whitman lays out in the poem. Emphasizing the image of the ship’s “sails” by preceding the words with diction such as “all” and “even” attributes the sails to a sense of abundance or freedom. The third instance of repetition occurs in line four, where “she speeds she speeds” is used to describe the motions that the ship is making. Whereas it would be considered grammatically correct to include a comma after the first mention of “she speeds,” leaving it out better reflects the content of the poem: “she speeds she speeds” gives the impression of a ship slicing through the water quickly. In many cases, using the same word twice in a row takes away from a text’s message, but in The Ship Starting, this repetition instead works in Whitman’s favor by supporting the visual imagery he seeks to create.