“O’ Captain My Captain” famous dirge written by Walt Whitman (1819-1892) in 1865 after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.
The revised version of the poem, in 1871 by the poet Walt Whitman
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 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 wreath, for you the shores a – crowding:
For you they call, the swaging mass, their eager faces turning.
O captain! Dear father!
This arm beneath your head;
It is some dream that on 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 silent tread,
Walk the spot my captain lies
Fallen cold and dead.
A great piece of art, honoring Abraham Lincoln by Whitman.
Its written Whitman envisioned Lincoln as an archangel captain and reportedly dreamed the night before the assassination about a ship entering a harbor under full sail.
Walter Whitman was a relatively unknown Journalist and a New York groovy at the time. Whitman’s nameless career started ripening, with a letter of praise and recognition from famous Emerson. Which had been described as the most important letter in American Literary History?
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) who already had earned a reputation for himself as the intellectual scion of the “Boston Brahmins,” the most respected essayist, philosopher, and lecturer of his generation. For an intellectual such as Emerson to notice Whitman’s work surely was unusual in that era in my opinion.
Emerson had taken a “great joy” of Whitman’s “free brave thought” in which he found “incomparable things said incomparably well.”
Whitman self-published his first version “Leaves of Grass” without titles and which was a collection of poems of his raw work. Whitman perhaps the America’s First Self-publicist.
Emerson’s commendation of this book as “The most extraordinary piece of wit and wisdom that America has yet contributed” was enormous value to the younger poet.
Whitman allowed Emerson’s letter to publish without the writer’s permission in the New York Tribune.
Although Emerson was enraged, it was Whitman’s moment of “Triumph.”
Whitman although a poet was a good businessman. He used his talent and also ceased the moment when presented. And his success came through writing unequaled things well. He owes his success to the out of box thinking. Another characteristic of a successful entrepreneur.
Whitman’s business acumen is something that should be analyzed and true even today and we see success of Singer’s like Lady Gaga. Although radical still gained the momentum and success through that uniqueness.
Entrepreneur’s and anyone have a lesson to learn of these successes.
Hidden Ingredients to be successful in business.
- Your Talent
- Your own Weirdness or Uniqueness
- Cease the Moment
- Probably a little luck and much hard work with tweaks
Although I should say I do not agree with Whitman publishing the contents of the letter sent by Emerson without his permission. Then can you blame him? I see as a proper assumption we all would make under the circumstances. The Emerson’s true recognition of Whitman’s work. So is it wrong to publish without permission?
Whitman’s radical celebration of the human body, common man, and his free poetic style had managed to shape the direction of American Poetry for the next century.
But his final works showed a shift from early erotic éclat to a poet of prophet and celebration of democracy in a philosophical tone.
One of Whitman’s most loved and greatest poems, “Song of Myself” is described as an optimistic and important look at the world. See few verses of this poem below:
“I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you should assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you
I loafe and invite my soul,
I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.”
Originally published as part of “Leaves of Grass” in 1855, is accessible and important today as when it was first written.
Another success was he took his first writings and kept improving up to 11 editions throughout his life time. That definitely is a business trick he knew how to play and played well.
P.S. My gratitude to LoC and Alice L. Birney, the writer’s vision and the explanations of this radical yet great poet’s work and life.