Analysis of Poems: Walt Whitman „O Captain! My Captain!” & John Berryman “Dream Song 149”

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Krzysztof Miezalski

Analysis of poems:
Walt Whitman „O Captain! My Captain!” & John Berryman “Dream Song 149”

O Captain! My Captain!
By Walt Whitman
O captain! my captain! Our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weathered every rack, the prize we sought is won; The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting, While follow eyes the stead 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 ribboned wreaths, for you the shores a-crowding: For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning. O 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 anchored 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.

In the now cult 1989 Peter Weir movie “Dead Poets Society” the teacher John Keating asks his students to call him “O Captain! My Captain!” If they are daring enough and it is not until the end of the movie that they decide to do so. Their relationship with the all-inspiring and charismatic teacher gradually grows reaching a climax during the end of the movie. I believe a parallel can be drawn between the poem and the famous movie ending since the students fully realize what John Keating represented to them right before he is about to leave them. In this poem there seems to be the same addressing of one who will leave forever .This elegy written in honor of the assassinated president Abraham Lincoln is a good example of...
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