Walt Whitman drawing by Augustus Rivers Brightman

O Captain! My Captain!

O Captain! My Captain!

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.


Walt Whitman was a great American poet, born on Long Island in 1819. He worked as a journalist and editor before publishing his seminal work, Leaves of Grass, in 1855. The collection of poems challenged the traditional poetic style of the time with its free verse and candid, often controversial subject matter.

Whitman's poetry was deeply influenced by his experiences as a volunteer nurse during the American Civil War, where he witnessed firsthand the horrors of battle and the suffering of wounded soldiers. His poetry celebrated the beauty of the human body, the natural world, and the democratic ideals of America.

Despite facing controversy and censorship for his work, Whitman remained dedicated to his art and continued to write until his death in 1892. His legacy as a visionary poet and cultural icon has continued to inspire generations of writers and artists.

Whitman's poetry is characterized by its directness and accessibility, as well as its celebration of the everyday and the ordinary. His work remains relevant today, speaking to issues of identity, sexuality, and social justice, and continues to inspire and challenge readers around the world.