And rounding out the 'old favourites' theme...
(Poem #157) 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.
This is one of the poems that I read and enjoyed as a child, but which lost its appeal somewhat with age and familiarity. However, I recently came across the following piece of background info, of which I was entirely unaware - quoting from a note on the poem: Abraham Lincoln's assassination at Ford's Theater is too familiar a story for me to rehash here. In a nation numbed by death in the just-ended War, this death was the more deeply felt. Whitman felt a deep personal grief, and he shows it in another well-known poem 'When lilacs last at the dooryard bloomed'. In [O Captain, my Captain], though, he captures the mass mood. -- Bob Blair  <[broken link] http://www.geocities.com/~spanoudi/poems/whitm01.html> Which epiphany should be sufficient commentary on the poem - for Whitman-related stuff, see Poem #54 m.