USA Roots&Traditions

O’ Captain, My Captain (eng)

Abraham Lincoln

Today I leave you with just this small piece, O’ Captain My Captain that opens up our discussion on Abraham Lincoln in Tuesday’s upcoming episode! (Watch all the Dana’s live video on our Facebook Page)

O Captain, My Captain

O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,

The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize sought is won,

The port is near, the bells I hear, the people allexulting,

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 captainlies, 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, it’s 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.

walt whitman


This poem written after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, written in the first person, shows a very personal reaction to the tragedy, letting us witness the tragedy, strengthening our emotional involvement.

Walt Whitman, a Northerner and a supporter of Lincoln, was devastated by his death.

The poem apparently describes the passing of a ship’s captain, and is actually an extended metaphor about Lincoln’s passing and it’s effect on the nation and his supporters.

You will recognize the first phrase of the poem from a great film The “Dead Poets Society”.

The students climb on their desks as a tribute to their teacher, defying the school rules of conduct, as they proclaim “O Captain! My Captain!”

The video of the scene
Dana Goodin for American Roots&Traditions

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