WesWords Perfect Pair 12.08.2014

American poet, essayist and journalist Walt Whitman, was born on Long Island in 1819.  Whitman worked as a journalist, a teacher, a government clerk, and–in addition to publishing his poetry–was a volunteer nurse during the American Civil War.  He was among the most influential poets of the American canon, often being referred to as the father of free verse.  A fine poet, his work breaks the boundaries of poetic form and is generally prose like.  His major work, Leaves Of Grass was first published in 1855 and was a collection of poetry which, he continued to edit and revise until his death in 1892.  It’s a mammoth collection which praises the human form and mind, nature and the individual’s role in it and contains epics such as Song of Myself and I Sing the Body Electric and this: 

(In Memory of actor Robin Williams, who read this poem in his 1989 movie Dead Poets Society.)

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.
 
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