What in the poem "O Captain My Captain"by Walt Whitman seems to recall Lincoln?

1 Answer | Add Yours

huntress's profile pic

huntress | College Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted on

The poem "O Captain! My Captain" is a requiem to the late President Lincoln, referring to the recently restored unity of the United States as a ship that has "weather’d every rack" (2)--survived the divisiveness and bloodshed of the Civil War and Reconstruction--with "the people all exulting" (3) because "the prize we sought is won" (2). 

The choruses specifically refer to the late president. Consider the first: 

                         But O heart! heart! heart!
                            O the bleeding drops of red,
                               Where on the deck my Captain lies,
                                  Fallen cold and dead.
 
Whitman had developed great affection and respect for Lincoln over the course of the war, and the president's death was a personal tragedy for him ("Oh heart!"). The President had been shot at point blank range in the back of the head, hence the "bleeding drops of red" (6). The Captain now lies "on the deck" of the ship (of state), "fallen cold and dead." 

We’ve answered 318,915 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question