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O’ Captain, My Captain A Poem by Walt Whitman

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1 O’ Captain, My Captain A Poem by Walt Whitman
A Poetry Analysis by J. King

2 Walt Whitman Born May 31, 1819 Largely self-taught, an avid reader
Teacher before becoming a journalist (Long Islander) 1855 Leaves of Grass published Involvement in the Civil War Not popular, struggled to support himself Died March 26, 1892

3 Transcendentalism A genre of literature during the late 1800’s in America Centered around Concord, Massachusetts and the surrounding area Centered on Nature Theme: Self-Reliance Style of Whitman: un-rhymed, free verse sexuality, democratic sensibility Other notable writers: Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson

4 O Captain, My Captain By: Walt Whitman
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, The long journey is over Prize is won; end is near; people cheering the victory Vessel=ship or body Imagery of blood; death of the captain Jubilation of flag and bugle Good vs. bad of the situation

5 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. Masses are exalting and mourning for the captain Speaker holds the head of the dead Captain Coming to the realization that the Captain is dead Juxtaposition of death and jubilant crowds

6 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. Death of the Captain begins to become evident Pulse and strength are gone Voyage is over, safe and sound Object won-Civil War (end of slavery) Exultation/bells-rejoice the end Captain=Abraham Lincoln--dead

7 Symbols and Important Images
Captain=Abraham Lincoln Prize=End to Slavery Object Won=End to Civil War

8 Tone/ Mood Beginning= celebratory, a time for rejoicing a victory
Middle=disbelief of tragedy End=realization of the tragedy of the death of the “Captain”

9 Themes Loyalty: commitment to the fallen leader
Coming of Age: speaker trying to force himself to believe/understand what has happened Death: abrupt and unexpected, glory in death?

10 A Final Thought Although the poem departs from the style of Whitman’s other poems, it is his most popular and most celebrated. His vivid images and use of emotion draws in the reader and leaves a sense of loss and emptiness. This is the same loss that was felt by the American people when their Captain, Abraham Lincoln, was brutally and unexpectedly murdered. In a time of new beginning in America, the people needed a poet like Walt Whitman and a poem like O Captain, My Captain.

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