O Captain My Captain
O, Captain! My Captain! a Detailed Review
O Captain! My Captain
The ability to move a great people is a virtue lacked by many leaders. Mourning the death of such a leader is an even great task. Abraham Lincoln was an exception. In O Captain! My Captain, Walt Whitman metaphorically uses the image of a Captain to depict the respect, loyalty and love he and his countrymen felt for Abraham Lincoln.
For a Captain to lead his crew, he must have the respect of his crew. Abraham Lincoln had people behind him, people who would follow him boldly into any situation. The Captain in the poem had that respect. O Captain! My captain, our fearful trip is done. Whitman tells of a fearful trip, a trip only taken with someone respected and trusted. That trip was the Civil War. Lincoln was victorious in his struggle or as Whitman puts it, the price we sought was won. Rather than mourn for a death, people were prepared for celebrating Lincolns victory.
Whitman uses metaphors of bells and ribbond wreaths to show his loyalty towards Lincoln. Lincolns death was so sudden that it left the country in misbelief. There was an eagerness, a longing for his return, for you the shores a-crowding.
A man calling another man father is a sign of great love. A father is loved, respected, and should be shown loyalty from his children. When a parent dies, or anyone that is loved for that matter, it is not odd to really look at them after they die. A dead loved one will be buried and gone forever. Years of looking at smiles and expressions from that person will be all but a memory. Whitman looks at his Captain, his father. He examines his pale lips and his stillness in a kind of awkward silence.
In the last verse, Whitman begins to feel some true joy, joy in the remembrance of Lincoln. Though he feels pain, joy shines through. Whitman must remember that Lincoln was victorious, that there should be feelings of joy and triumphant power. Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells! these are strong words, empowering words. Expressions that should be felt if a leader was great. If a follower feels moved by a dead leader and feels as if he should continue on that leaders quest, than the leader has done a successful job.
Whitman accepts Lincolns death with dignity and sympathy for the nation. He uses sadness and happiness together gracefully while never losing the seriousness of the matter.
A juxtaposition of Emily Dickinson’s poem Hope Is a Thing with Features and Walt Whitman poem, O Captain! My Captain!
America experienced profound changes during the mid 1800s. New technologies and ideas helped the nation grow, while the Civil War ripped the nation apart. During this tumultuous period, two great American writers captured their ideas in poetry. Their poems give us insight into the time period, as well as universal insight about life. Although polar opposites in personality, Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman created similar poetry. Dickinsons Hope is a Thing with Feathers and Whitmans O Captain! My Captain! share many qualities.
“Hope is a Thing with Feathers and O Captain! My Captain! contain a similar scansion. Both have a predominantly iambic meter. The unaccented beat followed by the accented beat creates a rising meter. Each poem also contains notable exceptions to the iambic meter. In “Hope is a Thing with Feathers, the first line Hope is the thing contains a trochee followed by an iamb. O Captain! My Captain! contains even more exceptions to the iambic meter. Line 5, But O heart! heart! heart! consists of an imperfect root followed by two spondees, or feet with two equally accented syllables. Both Line 6 O the bleeding drops of red and line 8 Fallen cold and dead have trochaic meters with an imperfect root at the end. The remainder of the poem has an iambic meter until the last two lines: Walk the deck my Captain lies, /Fallen cold and dead. The iambic meter makes the poem rise until the end where the switch to trochaic meter helps emphasize the conclusion of the poem.
Along with the irregularities in meter, neither poem has a regular line length or rhyming pattern. Dickinsons poem contains alternating tetrameters and trimeters, with the exception of the first line, which contains 7 syllables. The poem contains some irregular rhyme; heard in line 5 rhymes with bird in line 7, and Sea in line 10 rhymes with Me in line 12. Whitmans poem contains even more irregular line lengths. The first 4 lines of each stanza vary from 12 to 15 syllables, but the last 4 lines of each stanza vary from 5 to 8 syllables. Unlike in Dickinsons poem, the rhyming scheme carries throughout the whole poem, although the AABBCDED rhyme pattern contains a few cases of near rhyme.
Dickinson and Whitman also use similar poetic devices in “Hope is a Thing with Feathers and O Captain! My Captain! Each poem contains an extended metaphor. In Dickinsons poem, a bird clearly symbolizes hope. The first stanza introduces the bird metaphor: Hope is the thing with feathers–/That perches in the soul. The next lines And sings the tune without the words–/And never stopsat all illustrate the interminable nature of the bird and hope. The second stanza expands the metaphor by saying And sweetestin the Galeis heard. The birds song, or hope, is the sweetest during a Gale, or troubled times. The first lines in the final stanza Ive heard it in the chillest land–/ And on the strangest Sea describe the bird, or hope, as being everywhere. The last lines Yet, never, in Extremity,/It asked a crumbof Me show the unselfish nature of the bird; hope never asks for anything in return. O Captain! My Captain! contains a more complicated and cryptic extended metaphor. Basically, Abraham Lincoln captains the metaphorical ship of the United States through the Civil War. The second line The ship has weatherd every rack, the prize we sought is won means the United States survived the tribulation of the Civil War, and the citizens won the prize they sought, unity. Abraham Lincoln lies Fallen cold and dead on the deck as the ship, the United States, nears the safety of the port, national unity. The extended metaphors in each poem create interesting imagery, providing more insight into the authors feelings about the subject. Placing an idea like hope into the bird metaphor allows Dickinson to convey the persevering nature of hope in a more powerful manner than plainly saying hope is persevering.
Each poem uses sound within the extended metaphors. In “Hope is a Thing with Feathers the bird sings the tune without the wordsAnd never stopsat all–. The song of the bird is sweetestin the Gale and is even heard on the chillest land–/And on the strangest Sea. In O Captain! My Captain! bells provide sound. The bells I hear indicate the proximity of the ship to the port and are a means of exultation: Exult, O shores, and ring O bells! In the second stanza a bugle trills to celebrate the ships homecoming. The description of sounds in each poem contributes to the overall effectiveness of the extended metaphor and of the poem as a whole.
Two very different poets, through their poems, substantially affected the evolution of American Literature. Analysis of their works should increase the respect for how much goes into a poem. Elizabeth Bishop said, [poetry is] hundreds of things coming together at the right moment. Dickinson and Whitman shared that ability to combine many elements to create great poetry.
Walt Whitman’ s poem, O Captain My Captain; A look at the death of one of America’s hero
A great leader is the one who drives the motivation on their follower’s heart. The civil war was one of the bloodiest and worst wars in the history of the world, because it is not defined by the number of deaths, but because family members were fighting each other just because they believed in different things. The assassination of the leader who won the civil war Abraham Lincoln impacted many people that followed him. This short poem by Walt Whitman is dedicated to the death of one of the greatest leaders that America had. Many readers can identify themselves with this poem, because everyone has suffered the death of a close person or a person who was admired.
Walt Whitman came from a modest family and liked and wrote poetry most of his life, but he was not as popular until the civil war era. Whitman most famous poem “O Captain my Captain” was part of his influence in the Civil War. “In later 1862, Whitman traveled to Fredericksburg to search for his brother George, who fought for the Union and was being treated there for a wound he suffered. Whitman moved to Washington, D.C. the next year and found part-time work in the paymaster’s office, spending much of the rest of his time visiting wounded soldiers” (Editors, 2016). Whitman honors this poem to his former president, Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln lead the union during the American Civil War. The fight between the north and the south for the freedom of slaves for economic reasons lead to the hatred of many on president Lincoln, leading him to his death.
Everything that is great, must come to an end. The exciting yet controversial first stanza starts with joy, as to people cheering and jumping of excitement for winning a battle or war. Happy and excited because after a long time they get to return home. The ships voyage is compared to the whole time being at war, also calling the ship “the vessel grim and daring:” its explaining that they came back strong, and powerful. Then it transitions to the realization from the sailors of the ship that their captain has die right after “But O heart! heart! heart!” which emphasizes the poet’s grief at the death of his captain. Cries and tears, were on the deck, where the captain is “Fallen cold and dead.” The immediate change of mood on the poem it’s what makes it stunning.
Winning feels great when it has been accomplished in a group. The people who has followed the Captain Abraham on this long journey, is cheering and chanting for their accomplishment. Yet they don’t know that the captain has died. The cries of those who know, specially of Whitman, telling the dead to stand up and look at what he has done for many of them, “The poet refers to the fallen captain as “father,” representing his deep respect for president Lincoln and Lincoln’s role as father of the Union” (Lorcher, 2015); The author compares their Captain to their Father to give the whole poem more of a personal and deeper way of understanding how it feels the death of the captain. The melancholic mood that the author shows after doing a strong fight and winning, not being able to see the outcome of the sweat, blood and lives taken from his people, pay off.
Getting through the hardships of life is what makes a person or a country grow. The understanding that Whitman gives in this last stanza is that even though something might hurt, life keeps on going. “But I with mournful tread, Walk the deck my Captain lies, Fallen cold and dead.” Hope is given by this great poet with this poem. For every stanza, the last sentence was “fallen cold and dead” implying a repetition. Also, the whole poem does not have an accurate rhyming scheme, but it did have a little of a regular AB BC scheme.
Remembering those who die with you, are those who shall always be honored. The poem was a full metaphor of the death of the president Abraham Lincoln. Being sad and not being able to do anything for the live of that one person who did everything for you, makes your body cry and your soul cringe. Not only Whitman felt this way towards Abraham Lincoln, but also many of the citizens felt with their relatives or people that they supported. The whole country was going through a rough time during and after the war, and with this poem there was a symbol of hope. Even though a battle was won, life kept on being hard, and nothing can be explained better the way this poem explain it.