Friday, April 17, 2015

The Captain

In 6th grade English with Mr. Levi (6-7, what what) we studied poetry amongst proper grammar usage, diagramming sentences, and countless theme assignments. One assignment was a challenge to memorize and recite in front of the class a poem of one’s choosing. It was the beginning of what would be countless oral presentations and speeches in my schooling, and the other day I was reminded of the poem and realized that I could recite most of it from memory. 

The poem I chose was from Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, the classic metaphorical poem about the death of Abraham Lincoln, O Captain! My Captain!

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,
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.

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