O Captain! This arm beneath your head! O how can it be that the ground itself does not sicken? How can you be alive you growths of spring? How can you furnish health you blood of herbs, roots, orchards, grain? Are they not continually putting distemper'd corpses within you? Is not every continent work'd over and over with sour dead? Where have you disposed of their carcasses? Those drunkards and gluttons of so many generations? Where have you drawn off all the foul liquid and meat?
The Full Text of “O Captain! My Captain!”
The poem is an elegy to the speaker's recently deceased Captain , at once celebrating the safe and successful return of their ship and mourning the loss of its great leader. In the first stanza, the speaker expresses his relief that the ship has reached its home port at last and describes hearing people cheering. Despite the celebrations on land and the successful voyage, the speaker reveals that his Captain's dead body is lying on the deck. In the second stanza, the speaker implores the Captain to "rise up and hear the bells," wishing the dead man could witness the elation.
More by Walt Whitman
My Captain! O Captain! Here Captain! This arm beneath your head! My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still, My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will,. Select any word below to get its definition in the context of the poem. The words are listed in the order in which they appear in the poem. Whitman Out Loud — For audio recordings of the poem, check out the free downloadable selection from LibriVox. Although it is an academic lecture, it is written in an accessible style. Watch a famous scene from the film Dead Poets Society in which students recite the beginning of the poem for their teacher, played by Robin Williams.
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