What is the central idea of O Captain My Captain?

Asked By: Johna Mehul | Last Updated: 2nd March, 2020
Category: books and literature poetry
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The central idea of the poem which the poet is emphasising is theCaptain is "fallen cold and dead." Whitman repeats this It is well known that Whitman's "O Captain! my Captain!" is a lament for the death of Abraham Lincoln.

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Similarly, it is asked, what is the author's purpose of O Captain My Captain?

The author's purpose, Walt Whitman, to write the poem “O Captain! My Captain!” was to pay tribute to Abraham Lincoln after he was killed, around the time the Civil War ended. In addition, it gave American citizens a way to grieve Lincoln's sudden death.

Furthermore, what is the summary of the poem O Captain My Captain? The poem is an elegy to the speaker's recently deceased Captain, at once celebrating the safe and successful return of their ship and mourning the loss of its great leader. In the first stanza, the speaker expresses his relief that the ship has reached its home port at last and describes hearing people cheering.

Simply so, why is O Captain My Captain important?

Summary & Analysis. “O Captain! My Captain!” is an elegy written by Walt Whitman in 1865 to commemorate the death of President Abraham Lincoln. The poem is perhaps Whitman's most famous—which is ironic, since it is far more conventional in meter, form, and subject than much of Whitman's other work.

What does the swaying mass mean?

Swaying Masses The mass of people in the poem symbolize the American people who supported Lincoln and felt happy about the end of the war. In the work, the crowd is full of people who admire the captain for his works and dedication.

29 Related Question Answers Found

What is the metaphor in O Captain My Captain?

The entire poem is an extended metaphor, or figurative language that implies comparison between seemingly unlike things, for the United States after the Civil War and Abraham Lincoln's assassination. In the metaphor, the captain is Lincoln, the voyage is the war and the ship is the United States.

Who does the captain represent in the poem?

The captain represents the President and the ship in turn represents the United States. The trip is the Civil War and the price is keeping the union together. Whitman is overall very solemn about the loss of the captain.

What does bugle trills mean?

: a valveless brass instrument that resembles a trumpet and is used especially for military calls.

What point of view is O Captain My Captain?

My Captain! The poem is written in first person point of view because the captain (Abraham Lincoln) has just died, and the narrator was there to see. Also the narrator seems to be a soldier, because in the text it says, "Here Captain! dear father!

What poetic devices are used in O Captain My Captain?


In the poem “O Captain, My Captain!,” Walt Whitman uses a variety of figurative language, including internal rhyme, apostrophes, anaphora, alliteration, and repetition. He uses a quite a bit of alliteration and internal rhyme to keep a steady rhythm.

What is the fearful trip?

The fearful trip is the Civil War. The ship is the United States. The prize is the preservation of the union. The repetition of “heart” in line 5 emphasizes the poet's grief at the death of his captain. “Fallen cold and dead” is repeated at the end of each stanza to emphasize the poet's deep loss.

Who is the speaker in the poem O Captain My Captain?

That suggests to me that the speaker in that poem is Whitman himself. Reynolds appears to share this view (emphasis mine): In Whitman's best-known poems about Lincoln, "O Captain! My Captain!" and "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd," the silencing of his former poetic self is noticeable.

How does O Captain My Captain relate to Dead Poets Society?

His performance as John Keating, an influential and empowering high school teacher, in 1989's “Dead Poets Society” stood out among the rest. The scene in which his students recite “O Captain! My Captain,” an homage to Walt Whitman's poem, has become an indelible part of pop culture.

What does the vessel grim and daring mean?

grim. harshly uninviting or formidable in manner or appearance. The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting, While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring: The "vessel" could be both the ship that represents the nation and Lincoln as the means through which a new nation was formed.

What does it mean to rise up and hear the bells?


rise up and hear the bells; Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills, For you bouquets and ribbon'd wreaths—for you the shores a—crowding, For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning; The speaker wishes his captain would, could revive. His life is being celebrated.

What is the setting of the poem O Captain My Captain?

This poem is set on a ship that's coming into harbor. Of course, for Whitman, this was much more than a ship. In short, each aspect of the setting has a symbolic significance that Whitman uses to mourn and celebrate Abraham Lincoln.

Why does Mr Keating want to be called Captain?

Keating took this name from the poem "O Captain! My Captain!" by his favorite poet, Walt Whitman. Whitman wrote the poem as a tribute to Abraham Lincoln through the use of metaphor: The captain represents Abraham Lincoln.

Where does the phrase captain my captain come from?

“O Captain, My Captain” (1865) A poem by Walt Whitman about a captain who dies just as his ship has reached the end of a stormy and dangerous voyage. The captain represents Abraham Lincoln, who was assassinated just as the Civil War was ending.

How does the tone change throughout O Captain My Captain?

Initially, the crew of the ship express a tone of exultation, with longer phrases than in the latter part of the poem, as the victory is won, but the tone/mood changes as the crew member discovers the Captain is dead. He speaks in choked sentences of exclamation: "O heart!

How does O Captain My Captain represent American culture?


In "O Captain, My Captain", his extended metaphor, the Captain directly represents Lincoln and the ship that arrives represents America. For example "O Captain! My Captain! These lines show the metaphor of the victory of the civil war and the assassination of Lincoln very soon after.

What is an elegy in poetry?

An elegy is a sad poem, usually written to praise and express sorrow for someone who is dead. Although a speech at a funeral is a eulogy, you might later compose an elegy to someone you have loved and lost to the grave. The purpose of this kind of poem is to express feelings rather than tell a story.

What is elegy literature?

Elegy is a form of literature that can be defined as a poem or song in the form of elegiac couplets, written in honor of someone deceased. It typically laments or mourns the death of the individual. Elegy is derived from the Greek work elegus, which means a song of bereavement sung along with a flute.