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By sidneyisnthere Apr 09, 2014 284 Words
“O’ Captain! My Captain!” Commentary

“O’Captain! My Captain!”, written by Walt Whitman, is an elegy about the assassination of president Abraham Lincoln. In the poem, the first six lines are joyous and celebratory. After those six lines, the poem’s tone becomes very mournful. The overall theme is that losing the person who guides people into safety, can leave those who needed the leadership lost and confused. It warns against becoming too hysterical, because beauty of the deeds accomplished may be overshadowed. Whitman utilizes many literary devices such as extended metaphor, imagery, repetition, and irony, to help convey the main idea and the theme in this poem. The entire poem itself is an extended metaphor comparing the death of Abraham Lincoln to the death of a captain at sea. Throughout the whole poem, Whitman refers Abraham Lincoln as “Captain.” In line 17, “his lips are pale and still”, Whitman uses imagery to allow the reader to see what the dead captain looks like and bring in the reality of how lost they will be. The true irony in this poem is in lines 21-24, “Exult, O shores, and ring, Oh bells! / But I, with mournful tread / walk the deck my Captain lies, / Fallen cold and dead”. This shows the irony that exists when everyone is celebrating making it through the “fearful trip”, which is a metaphor for the civil war. To contribute to the flow of the poem, repetition through out the whole poem. He utilized, in lines 1 and 9, “O Captain! My Captain!” and also in lines 8, 16, and 24 “fallen cold and dead.” These contribute to the importance of the phrase. With these overall aspects, “O’ Captain! My Captain!” is an amazing piece of literature.

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