Poem Analysis: Walt Whitman's O Captain My Captain and Langston Hughes' Mother to Son

Topics: Walt Whitman, Poetry, United States Pages: 3 (911 words) Published: May 7, 2014

Poem Analysis

Although the two poems portray two very different styles of writing, Walt Whitman's “O Captain! My Captain!” And “Mother to Son,” by Langston Hughes, do share some similarities. Both poems use stylistic devices such as figurative language, metaphors, and rhythm to convey their overall message. At times, they both share a darker and more gloomy tone. This is particularly evident in “Mother to Son.” However, in contrast, these poems have more differences than similarities, especially in style of writing, structure and tone.

“O Captain! My Captain!” is a metaphoric poem, written by Walt Whitman. The elegy, is a tribute to Abraham Lincoln. It is one of four poems, that Whitman wrote in memory of his fallen hero. “Mother to Son,” by Langston Hughes, is spoken from the perspective of an African American mother, passing on wisdom to her child. As we can see, these two poems are about completely different subjects and topics. However, the differences extend beyond that of the central subject. Both poems, have different tones and styles of writing. “O Captain! My Captain!,” begins with a much more epic and almost heroic tone. “O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells; Rise up‐ for you the flag is flung‐ for,/ you the bugle trills” (5-6). There is fast paced movement on the "ship," as the “captain,'” is “Fallen cold and dead” (4). “Mother to Son,” begins with a steady paced speech, like that of a mother's voice, and it continues on with the same pace throughout the poem. There are few moments in which the tone of the poem changes. As we read the poem, we are presented with the connotation of a tired and weary mother, giving advice to her child, “Well, son, I'll tell you,/ Life for me ain't been no crystal stair” (1-2). In contrast to Walt Whitman's poem, it immediately gives a much deeper and sentimental impression.

Through the skillful use of literary devices such as metaphors, symbolism, repetition, informal language, as well as...

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"O Captain! My Captain! Analysis." Elite Skills Classics. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Jun 2012. .
. "Metaphor Analysis in Mother to Son." BookRags. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Jun 2012. .
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