Walt Whitman O Captain My Captain Analysis

Good Essays
Whitman’s Love of Lincoln

Walt Whitman’s poem, “O Captain! My Captain!,” tells of a young man coming back from a battle on a ship. However, the captain has, “fallen cold and dead” (8), and the young man weeps for his captain’s death. Whitman is writing about Abraham Lincoln after he died, Whitman in deep grief and mourning. He captures the funeral of the captain by alluding to Lincoln and soldiers, the grief of someone who is close, changes the tone to match the people and himself, and captures the essence of the United States of America, all as an honor to his favorite president.

Whitman has a double meaning in his poem. Later in the poem, Whitman writes, “for you the flag is flung-for you the bugle trills” (10). Flags are usually waved (or flung) after a group of soldiers comes home from a battle, and
…show more content…
It has been mentioned multiple times in the poem, but we never get a good description. Because Whitman is writing about Abraham Lincoln, and the president is the “captain” of America, the ship is none other than America herself. She embodies the hearts and souls of the soldiers who gave their lives, limbs, and hearts to their country. She also embodies the families of the soldiers, many of whom fought on different sides. Lincoln had helped America, “weather’d ev’ry rack” (2). They had sought for the Union to be together again and, “the prize we sought is won!” (2) Lincoln himself had fought and died for the country, and that is what makes the poem so powerful, so striking to the heart. Whitman loved America and Lincoln, and he poured out his heart when the latter died.

Whitman alludes to Lincoln, helps keep the feelings America felt, deals with his grief, and shows America becoming strong again. Whitman does this all to honor the Commander-in-Chief of the United States. Whitman constructs a poem that would forever be talked about in classes around the world, but mostly on the soil where it was written, in the beautiful United States of

Related Documents

  • Decent Essays

    The theme of "O Captain! My Captain!" is that sacrifices have to be made in order to be successful and gain greatness. Elegy: somber toned poem, lament for the dead This poem is an Elegy in honor of Abraham Lincoln. Walt Whitman wrote this poem a little after Lincoln's assassination.…

    • 700 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Whitman saw a “grand tragedy that promised ultimate purgation and unification for America” in the death of Lincoln (Reynolds). Because of this view on President Lincoln, Whitman needed to grieve in some form so he created an eulogy in the form of a poem. The poem is written entirely from the son’s point of view wants to expressing encouraging news to his father. Whitman wrote this in parallel structure to himself being the son and Lincoln being the father; this shows Whitman’s “deep respect for president Lincoln and…

    • 787 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    When Whitman was able to see him, it was a friendly glare from across the room; however, it was all Whitman had hoped for. Since Whitman looked up to Lincoln in such a way, it seems to be the reason he was inspired to write the poem “O Captain! My Captain!” about his death. Whitman was also said to be influenced by his experiences as a war…

    • 973 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    My Captain!” is actually a poem about the death of President Abraham Lincoln after his victory in the Civil War. Whitman uses many literary devices to paint a dark and grief filled picture of Lincoln’s death. The way Whitman writes about Lincoln shows that his death was personal to Whitman. The beginning of the poem starts off building excitement: O’Captain! My Captain!…

    • 884 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Again, the use of ‘father’ is a symbol for the intimate affection the people and especially Walt Whitman had for Lincoln. Also, the phrase ‘MY Captain’ instead of ‘OUR Captain’ shows the personal relationship the narrator had for the captain. Another important point is that the captain died on the deck of the ship while he was still in command. This is analogous to the fact that Lincoln died when he was still president of the…

    • 1010 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Planned Propaganda

    • 1002 Words
    • 4 Pages

    Many of these men had fought in the Civil War and had a positive view of war. They taught this view to the younger generation through school or literature. Oliver Wendell Holmes Junior was a Civil War officer that spoke to Harvard’s graduating class. He told them, “War might be terrible when you were in it, but with time, you see that its message is divine” (Kennedy, 179) thus further romanticizing the war. There was a different kind of propaganda to go along with this elite and romanticized view of war.…

    • 1002 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Lincoln’s speech “The Gettysburg Address” was a “passionate speech by Lincoln it was a speech of sorrow dedication the cemetery to the dead soldiers that died in the war” (Lincoln.) King’s speech “I Have a Dream” was a very “passionate speech that was intended to make a change in America so that racism would cease to exist and King poured his heart and soul into his speech” (King.) Kennedy’s speech “Put a Man on the Moon” was a “passionate speech but Kennedy had to be very persuasive in his speech to get congress to grant all the money he was asking for” (Kennedy.) All three speeches are passionate and are trying to do something to help America as a…

    • 687 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    O Life!” and “O Captain My Captain!” The similar poetic device used is repetition. According to Shenandoah Literary, “[In the poem, “O Me! O Life!” Whitman employs the anaphora ‘Of’ to begin five of the eight lines in the first stanza.” Bright Hub Education states that “[In “O Captain! My Captain!”] the repetition of ‘heart’ in line 5 emphasizes the poet’s grief of the death of his captain. ‘Fallen cold and dead’ is repeated at the end of each stanza to emphasize the poet’s deep loss.” These two sources explain the repetition in the poems and explain one similarity between the two.…

    • 700 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Analyze and explain what this Gettysburg Address means to you personally. In this short speech delivered in 1863, President Lincoln expresses his devout mourn for the dead on the battlefield near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania in a inspiring tone. Having finished this speech, I am deeply touched by Lincoln’s good grasp of numerous rhetoric strategies. In this short speech, Lincoln provides insight into the conflicts between the Southern slave states and the Northern industrial states by pointing out that the northern states were fighting for liberty, freedom and democracy. According to Lincoln, it is worthwhile to establish the Gettysburg Memorial Park to mourn for the brave and sacred soldiers who sacrificed their life for the welfare of a nation of liberty, freedom and democracy.…

    • 469 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    The narrator stresses their fall by talking about “an urn maybe delivered by chariot.” He also speaks about the other countries involved in the war, and, just as he compared Arthur to all who died for the cause, he likens each country to one token returning from war. “You could bring Germany back on a shield once / And France in a plume. England, I suppose, / Kept coming back a long time as a letter.” In the last line, the speaker mentions the oak leaves on Arthur’s casket. In the military, oak leaves are bestowed on holders of United States Army and Air Force decorations with each new awarding of that same decoration. This suggests that Arthur was a highly decorated officer, and most likely strongly mourned.…

    • 764 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays