O CAPTAIN! MY CAPTAIN! by Walt Whitman

In the first stanza of the poem, what does the speaker imply when he/she repeated the word “heart”?

  1. (The repetition of the word “heart” in the first stanza of the poem shows the grief and sorrow that the speaker felt when he found out that his captain lies on the deck, cold and dead where blood drips and scattered on the floor. Heart represents the misery of the people that surrounds the captain that moment, when they return from a fearful journey bringing success which came with a high cost, and that’s the death of their own captain. Captain represents the former President Abraham Lincoln who died after he was assassinated after the civil war. Adored and respected with his people for being a great leader during his presidency that’s why American citizens and the speaker of the poem lament for his sudden death. It explains how they loss a captain who fought with them until the end to won the war. And, their heart doesn’t beat anymore the way it was even though they get the victory they deserved because their captain died without enjoying the prize they sought to have, no grander celebration to rejoice anymore.)

What does the phrase “fearful trip” mean? Support your answer.

  • (Walt Whitman wrote this poem, because he spent his life in Washington during the outbreak of Civil War admiring the leadership of Abraham Lincoln, and also to honor his name. Whitman might saw all the happenings inside that fearful trip wherein he grows loved for the soldiers and their captain who had sacrificed a lot to achieve victory and glory for the Americans. The phrase “fearful trip” represents the American Civil War, in which Americans endured from it. It was fearful since war always involves bombing and even killings. This voyage or trip is dreadful because they experienced a lot of painful trials and tests until the United States overcome it.  Seeing and experiencing all of this is really terrifying and distressing especially when you spotted a lot of wounded soldiers and people just to fought for everyone’s lives and for their nation’s triumph.)

What do you think is the reason why there is rejoicing despite the death of the captain?

  • (The reason why there is rejoicing despite the death of the captain because the fearful trip was already over and they succeed and survived from it. People from the port are waiting for them to celebrate for their return and success. The Civil War is the fearful trip and it was finally successful. Despite the death of Abraham Lincoln, they need to accept it and continue to rejoice with the victory they had since their captain did his best just to fought against this fearful voyage. They will celebrate this triumph in a short period of time and continue to mourn for their deep loss, losing their captain and a father to their nation.

 Why do you think the speaker of the poem ends each stanza with the words “fallen cold and dead”? What is the effect of ending each stanza with these words?

  • (I think the speaker of the poem ends each stanza with the words “fallen cold and dead” to show that he cannot get over with the misery he felt in losing his captain. It highlights the tragedy that happens during the fearful trip and how their captain and its soldier fought to get their victory despite that their captain died during that dreadful battle. The words “fallen cold and dead’ was repeated three times, it appears at the end of each stanza. The first time it was mentioned, we were told by the speaker that the captain is dead, lying in the deck covered with his own blood. The second time it was mentioned, the speaker was hoping that it was just a dream, he refuses to believe that his captain fallen cold and dead. At the last stanza of the poem, it was mentioned again to shows that the speaker tried to accept the reality that was happened. He tried to calm himself and continue mourning for losing his captain. The effect of ending each stanza with this words filled every hearts with sadness and it captured the purest intention of the speaker and the nation to mourn and make a way to commemorate their captain’s name and death.)

How would you relate this poem with a period in American history? Support your answer.

  • (This poem was written by Walt Whitman to commemorate the death of former US President Abraham Lincoln. During the American Civil War, the author/speaker of the poem spent his time on war experiences, including brutality, violence, and even nationalism.  He admired Abraham Lincoln for his great leadership to help his nation overcome it, and push him to write several poems to give tributes to the sudden death of President Lincoln.  Lastly, the poem shows the history of America in which it symbolizes the end of Civil War happened that time and how Americans citizens mourn for the death of President Lincoln. Some words in the poem represents some events in the past. The word captain in the poem represents the honorable US President Abraham Lincoln and his great presidency, the ship represents the United States, the fearful trip represents the terrifying Civil War and Lincoln’s life during that battle, and the anchored ship was now safe and sound meant that their nation is now enjoying their freedom being out in the war and living in peace.)

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