Poetry Friday: O Captain! My Captain! – Walt Whitman

Poetry Friday: O Captain! My Captain! – Walt Whitman

This is another one of those poems I’ve known for years but that I don’t actually KNOW. I was just reading up on it and the meaning behind it is spectacular, but more on that later. How did I come across this poem?


I’m tearing up just thinking about it. I loved Dead Poets Society and I loved Robin Williams. (I haven’t read the book yet and it was published in the same year I was born so I should really get it on my To Read-list!) Although John Keating (Williams) first quotes it in a triumphant way, his students later use it to say goodbye, which is closer to the true meaning.

So I’ve always looked at “O Captain! My Captain!” as a single line, beautiful in hidden meaning because of this movie. When I looked up the rest of the poem, I found it to be full of mourning. And that’s just the kind of poetry I like dark, full of passion and longing and sadness,…

About the poem:

Walt Whitman composed the poem “O Captain! My Captain!” after Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. The poem is classified as an elegy or mourning poem, and was written to honor Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States. Walt Whitman was born in 1819 and died in 1892, and the American Civil War was the central event of his life. Whitman was a staunch Unionist during the Civil War. He was initially indifferent to Lincoln, but as the war pressed on Whitman came to love the president, though the two men never met.

The poem is full of metaphors and I do recommend that you go and have a look at the complete analysis. It’s pretty impressive.


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