Tuesday, April 13, 2010

National Poetry Month: O Captain! My Captain!

In honor of National Poetry Month -- and of Walt Whitman -- and of Abraham Lincoln (who died on April 15th), I'd like to post this beautiful elegy.

I'm sure you've read or heard it before, if not in high school English or on Dead Poets Society, then just because it's floating in the collective discourse. I love it because it resonates with the soul.

And, how can you not love a man who wrote his own critical reviews under pseudonyms? Talk about a creative spirit :)

Feel free to add your own favorite poems in the the comments section.

Walt Whitman (1819–1892). Leaves of Grass. 1900.

193. 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! 5
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; 10
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, 15
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; 20
Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!
But I, with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

Taken from http://www.bartleby.com/142/193.html.

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