Paul Revere's Ride Questions and Answers
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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Compare and contrast Longfellow's poem "Paul Revere's Ride" and Whitman's "O Captain, My Captain" for theme and type of poem. These are some complex poems; I think I know what the answer is, I just want to be sure.

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In general, Longfellow and Whitman have little in common as poets. Longfellow was a traditionalist, using standard verse forms, regular meter, and rhyme. Whitman was an iconoclast, in most of his important verse rejecting both traditional formal elements of poetry and also expressing unorthodox ideas. That said, "O Captain, my Captain" is, from a technical standpoint, one of Whitman's most conventional poems. Instead of being written in the free verse he is best known for, this poem has the standard elements of meter and rhyme.

Though "Paul Revere's Ride " and "O Captain, my Captain" both are patriotic poems extolling American heroes (Paul Revere and Abraham Lincoln), and though both are written using the traditional verse elements of meter and rhyme, the two poems have little else in common. The first is about an episode in American history in which a man successfully warned the populace outside Boston that an attack on them (or, more specifically, an expedition that had the aim of...

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