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Top 100 or so Poems - POEM OF THE DAY - "O Captain! My Captain!" by Walt Whitman

11/16/2011 -- This classic Whitman poem has been selected for our "Top 100" series, as it is found in most similar anthologies. When picking classic english language poems, of course we add our own twist to the list. Most of the poetry on the blog, including that of Thomas Herr, has a certain "edge" to it; a statement is implied, a way of life is the stimuli, the poet himself may be controversial, or the message is important or the style is unique and perhaps unconventional.

Several of Whitmans poems qualify for this list, which folds "popularity" into the mix as well.

Another contender from Whitman will be "Leaves of Grass" - which is huge and might not be suitable (in size) for the blog...

Anyway, here is the original post and the wonderful poem itself; enjoy!


Ok, here's a classic none other than the famous American icon, Walt Whitman, born and raised on Long Island...a mournful ode to Abraham Lincoln. This week, poems from guys that begin with a W. What better way to start than with a guy that has two.
Enjoy WW!
O Captain! My Captain!
by Walt Whitman
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.


  1. Great poem, but I believe this poem is an ode to President Lincoln.

  2. I agree, and with all the retweets and tweets about this broadcast, you are the first one to comment. I learned about it as a poem to Lincoln in school; however there was a debate about double meanings w/r/t "father" and "pirate". When I encountered this one last week for consideration as POD, my heart was filled with sorrow for my own father and our recent loss. Hence, that's what it means for me today.