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O Captain! My Captain! by Walt Whitman


"O Captain! My Captain!" is a poem written by Walt Whitman. This poem is perhaps Whitman's most famous work and has been mentioned numerous times in media (including movies). This poem is about how the ship went to war and the shipmates love their Captain. However, during the altercation the Captain died. The crew hopes it is only a dream, but it isn't. He is truly dead.

This poem is written as three separate sections; however, it could easily be simply three stanzas as it doesn't make much of a difference in this writing. The first stanza talks about how the ship is still there, but the Captain is dead. The second talks of the flag still flying and people looking for their Captain, but he is dead. The third talks of the ship being safe, but the Captain is dead.


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.

Next: On the Beach at Night
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Literary Movement
19th Century

War, Army, Dream, Death, Flag

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