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.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Walt Whitman's poem O Captain! My Captain!


  1. sam says:

    I dont really understand the context of this poem. I know that it is about Abraham Lincoln, but i dont understand what each stanza means, if any one could help that would be great.

  2. page says:

    and im sorry Col. John B Devoe if i insulted you because your my heroe even though idont even know you

  3. shobha says:

    beutiful poem should be read by all .really touching

  4. edd says:

    i have seen several times in the media people standing on chairs (particularly in classrooms) and saying “o captain, my captain!” to teachers.
    what does that mean/

  5. Jamie Davis says:

    I liked your poems i’ve only read this one but the others have to be as good as this one is so keep them coming. truley jamie

  6. kelly says:

    O CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN, watch the movie ‘Dead Poets Society’ with Robin Williams
    this is a great poem

  7. Stacy Johnson says:

    this was an AMAZING poem. it shows people the sadness and the tragedy of Abraham Lincolns death.

  8. Rianna says:

    how come i NEVER get these stupid poems. i guess im just like…retarded. why do they have to use symbolism and stuff? cant they just say what they are talking about without making it *secretive*? whatever. all i know is that the captain is ABRAHAM LINCON. thanks you guys for helping me!

  9. Emily says:

    I had to memorize this poem and recite it to my 8th grade reading class today. At first, when my teacher read it to my class, I had no idea that it was about Abrham Lincoln. When she told us it was about Abraham Lincoln i said it didn’t sound like it was, but after she read us the words and explained to us how they related to him the day he was killed by John Wilks Booth. I understood why he wrote it. I think this is a great and useful poem! If you don’t understand it think of it like it is a love poem just meant for you, and let the words explain themselves like your boyfriend or husband would if it was in a love poem!

  10. Joey says:

    like omg i toatlly loved da poem it how can you say rocked my socks! later hunnies peace

  11. Sarah says:

    It did not seem obvious at first, but this poem is about Lincoln’s death, and the re-united country. When Whitman mention’s the prize to that was won, The prize is actually the civil war, that began the recreation of the union.
    Lincoln did not, nor did many of the northerners, want the slaves to be able to vote, or even, to be free. He acts as a good president, negotiating with the different political figures and groups of the time. The emancipation Proclamation, for example, freed no slaves, because the rebelling states did not agree to any laws passed by the united states. It was actually meant to change the cause of the war, and boost northern soldiers morale.

    The poem portrays America’s loss in the death of Lincoln. It shows him as a father of our nation, and the man who helped bring us together again. The narrorator realizes this and mourns his loss.

  12. Corey says:

    This is a great poem and should be heard all over the country!!!

  13. Spinna says:

    This poem was quite intellegently created as to devise such an emotion as to stir the nation into the believence of this ever such event taking place. It did not, but will remain in our hearts as taking occurence in the USA. You may agree or disagree. That is your choice alone, but remember this poem is the heart of our nation. No matter your opinion

  14. Col. John B. Devoe USAF (Ret.) says:

    I was required to memorize this poem in grammar school in the year 1933…I can still recite it from memory.

    I would make the observation that the poem is surely not about the author’s father, not about slavery, but rather the preservation (not the creation) of the Union. That was the goal that was won.

    That was the goal sought and achieved, not the elimination of slavery. Lincoln himself expressed that view but desired to end slavery as well.

    It was slavery (the extension of it to other states the goal of the Rebels) that was the cause of the war, but Lincoln’s goal was the preservation of the Union.

    A great-grandfather of mine, Commander of the Fifth Michigan Infantry, died for that cause on 3 May 1863 at the Battle of Chancellorsville.

  15. Kellie says:

    In the 8th grade i had to memorize this poem as a project. i got really good and could say it in less than a minute. but that isn’t the point, the point is i decided to do some research on it because it was interesting and not very clear. but what i found out was that this poem really was created in honor of Abraham Lincoln’s death after the Civil War, just in case any one was wondering.

  16. gewn says:

    While doing research to help my group poetry and analyzing, I ran into this site. The comments are very interesting and helped me a lot. I finally understand all of the symbolism and such. I thought there were no hidden meanings. I thank everyone so much for helping me, i now understand it.

  17. milana says:

    i enjoyed this poem. i really get the symbolizm. i just wish i knew why he wrote it.

  18. Matt says:

    Maybe its known by all of us because its just a good poem… Can we help the fact that Walt Whitman was one of the most known Naturalist poets out there???

  19. Greg says:

    You don’t know why this poem is so famous? Maybe it’s because so many people liked it…

  20. Reg says:

    No, this peom is no good. how it is famos I dont knpw

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