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Analysis Of O Captain My Captain By Walt Whitman

Structurally, this twenty four line poem is divided into three equal stanza of eight lines per stanza. For the record, Walt Whitman is known for his unpredictable rhythm and rhyme scheme. Though the poem has some evidence of end rhyme scheme,  word arrangement looks wobbling and irregular like the current of the ocean. It is no surprise that the poem took such arrangement since the poem has a sea setting with the use of words such as "shore" "ship" "Captain" "vessel" "voyage" "deck".

This poem falls under the category of war poem but the fact that it is an elegy cannot be denied. The poem speakers indirectly mourns the death of his captain who has fallen in battle. Speaking with ignorance, the poet calls on his dead captain as he was sleeping, asking him to rise up; after which he tells the readers through his contrasting refrain that "...my Captain lies/ Fallen cold and dead".

In stanza 1, the speaker notifies his captain that the battle is over and won. Stanza 2 tells the captain of the crowd at shore happily ready to celebrate with him. Stanza 3 is where the speaker of the poem hit the nail in the head by coming into reality:
"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 silent tread,
Walk the spot my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead."

The refrain in the poem makes the poem lyrical even though the message is mournful with exclamatory phrases. Imageries are "fearful trip" "the people all exulting" "For you bouquets and ribbon'd wreaths" "his lips are pale and still". The alliterations are "weathered every wrack" "flag is flung" "dream that on the deck". Assonance in line 3 "near the bells I hear" "fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won". Anaphora in stanza one with the use of "The ship" "the prize" "The port" "the people" then in stanza two with the use of "for you the flag" "for you the bugle" "For you bouquet" "for you the shore" "For you they call".

O Captain! My Captain! by Walt Whitman is a poem about a captain who lost his life as a result of a war. The poem shows that there are two sides to the outcome of battle; where some people soberly mourn and cry, others gladly sing and celebrate victory. Even amidst the winners of a certain battle, those alive rejoice with their loved ones while family of those dead mourn.

In searching for the motive of the poem, Wikipedia reveals that Whitman composed the poem after the death of Abraham Lincoln. It became one of the most recognized elegy among American and poetry lovers in general.

Who is Walt Whitman? Walter "Walt" Whitman was an American poet, essayist, and journalist born on May 31, 1819 in West Hills, United States of America but died on March 26, 1892, in Camden, USA.

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Samuel C. Enunwa aka samueldpoetry
(the Leo with wings flying)
-- All Poetic Analysis On This Website Are Listed Below:-