O CAPTAIN! my Captain!

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 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 ribbon’d 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 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 (1819”“1892)


Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Death / Burial / Funerals, Defense, National Security, Military, Parish Ministry, Poetry & Literature

One comment on “O CAPTAIN! my Captain!

  1. NoVA Scout says:

    A wonderful poem, easily read, easily listened to, and easily committed to memory (as was required of legions of schoolboys in my day). But to really appreciate both Whitman’s genius and his deep appreciation for the greatness of Lincoln, one should steel oneself for a disciplined, undistracted reading of “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloomed”, Whitman’s larger work on the Lincoln theme. I have a great fondness for lilacs and, where I live, they generally bloom near the anniversary of Lincoln’s death. I try to find some quiet time to sit near my lilacs and read through that poem each April near the anniversary of the week that saw both the events of Appomattox and Mr. Lincoln’s tragic murder. If anyone is curious about the poem, don’t wait for the lilacs next blooming. Pull it out of your dusty anthologies and read it now.