O Captain, My Captain!


So every fall when school begins again I have a strong yearning to watch Dead Poet's Society. It's one of those movies that makes you want to study the great words of great poets, start a secret club, go to a boarding school on the east coast, and stand up for what is right no matter the consequences. Remember the "barbaric YAWP" scene when Todd finally starts to come out of his shell? Remember when Mr. Keating has them rip out the introduction to their books? Or when Pitts donates a half-eaten role to their midnight snack stash? Of course we cry when Neil leaves this life after his standing-ovation performance as Puck in A Midummer's Night Dream. You want to punch Meeks when he rats on Mr. Keating--thank goodness Dalton bloodies his nose for us. And the final scene is one I want to be part of. When all the boys stand on their desks as Mr. Keating leaves the classroom forever, "O, Captain, my captain!"

The original poem was written about Abraham Lincoln after he was assassinated. It was written by the great Walt Whitman. Here is that wonderful poem I was made to memorize in high school:

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 steady 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;

Here Captain! dear father!

This arm beneath your head!I

t 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.


Dee said...

I LOVE that poem, I love Whitman, and I looooove Lincoln!

I am going to watch this movie again. It's been years!!! And I can't even remember much about it other than Robin Williams reciting O Captain, My Captain, so passionately!

About my book list. I would highly recommend Angela's Ashes first for you because you love Ireland, right? It's a story about a poor boy growing up in Dublin.
Then Glass Castle. The author, now writer for, was raised by two "crazy" parents who are now homeless in NYC! The thing is, for all their craziness, they often say brilliant things and you love them. But I haven't finished yet,so we'll see if I still love them in the end!

Ann Marie said...

Thanks for the recommendations! I've heard much about Angela's Ashes...I guess it's high-time I got to it!