Saturday, February 5, 2011

Classic Poetry - ( O Captain! My Captain! by Walt Whitman)

Walt Whitman

O Captain! My Captain!

O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weathered 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 ribboned 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 anchored 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

Walter "Walt" Whitman (May 31, 1819 - March 26, 1892)
He is Linked above to Wikepedia if you wish to know about this poet.

Although many may be familiar with this poem solely due to the movie “The Dead Poets Society” it is noted as one of Whitman’s best. He had written it shortly for and after the death of Abraham Lincoln. Whitman is and was a very intriguing and controversial figure. What are your thoughts on this poem? Has it been too overused? What are your thoughts on Whitman? Do you have any poems written by him you prefer? Please feel free to share your thoughts on either the poem or Whitman in the comment section below.

Poets United posts a classic poem once weekly. We want to do this to introduce classic poets and their poems to our members. It is also a way to display different styles, genres and approaches to poetry. Our intent is to further expand the world of poetry while educating ourselves.

If you have a classic poem or set of prose you are fond of please let us know by emailing it to us at


  1. I love Whitman. Having said that, I think it's true that this particular poem has lost some of its immediacy through familiarity and the passage of time. I can't read it without thinking of than Hawke standing on his desk in that movie. And the style is more conventional and formal than most of Whitman's work. It sounds more like Longfellow than Whitman, to me. (for the record, I like ongfellow, too, but in a different way.)

    Whitman was a nurse during the American Civil War and saw the carnage up close.

    My favorite by Whitman is "Animals", followed by the longer "Out Of The Cradle Endlessly Rocking."

    Wonderful choice, and wonderful questions.

  2. I have a warm, fuzzy feeling about Whitman. In a way, he introduced me to poetry. I have a copy of "Leaves of Grass" on my desk and I consider him a wise and enlightened man. Nice of you to highlight him.

  3. Many years in reverse I am transported reading this poem. Love Whitman, but not above all others.

    NOTE: I would hate to try eating bean soup through that mountain of hair--grin

  4. It's so sad. Of what use is a victory when a man who led it dies? It's a rather cruel exchange, isn't it? Really sad poem.
    I've also noticed that the rhyme is near perfect.

  5. I memorized this poem in 6th grade...recited it before my class, rote. I was completely into it, felt him fallen cold and dead.

  6. This is my first time of reading this poem, and am loving it, it is a sad poem, but can't help but to love it


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