O Captain! My Captain!

- By Walt Whitman
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Walter Whitman (/ˈhwɪtmən/; May 31, 1819 – March 26, 1892) was an American poet, essayist, and journalist. A humanist, he was a part of the transition between transcendentalism and realism, incorporating both views in his works. Whitman is among the most influential poets in the American canon, often called the father of free verse.[1] His work was controversial in its time, particularly his poetry collection Leaves of Grass, which was described as obscene for its overt sensuality. Whitman's own life came under scrutiny for his presumed homosexuality. Born in Huntington on Long Island, as a child and through much of his career he resided in Brooklyn. At age 11, he left formal schooling to go to work. Later, Whitman worked as a journalist, a teacher, and a government clerk. Whitman's major poetry collection, Leaves of Grass, was first published in 1855 with his own money and became well known. The work was an attempt at reaching out to the common person with an American epic. He continued expanding and revising it until his death in 1892. During the American Civil War, he went to Washington, D.C. and worked in hospitals caring for the wounded. His poetry often focused on both loss and healing. On the death of Abraham Lincoln, whom Whitman greatly admired, he wrote his well known poems, "O Captain! My Captain!" and "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd", and gave a series of lectures. After a stroke towards the end of his life, Whitman moved to Camden, New Jersey, where his health further declined. When he died at age 72, his funeral was a public event.[2][3]

O Captain! My Captain!

Read the poem and answer the questions below.
O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weather'd 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 ribbon'd 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!
         It 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 anchor'd 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.

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Word Lists:

Trill : a quavering or vibratory sound, especially a rapid alternation of sung or played notes

Bouquet : an attractively arranged bunch of flowers, especially one presented as a gift or carried at a ceremony.

Keel : the longitudinal structure along the centerline at the bottom of a vessel's hull, on which the rest of the hull is built, in some vessels extended downward as a blade or ridge to increase stability.

Wreath : an arrangement of flowers, leaves, or stems fastened in a ring and used for decoration or for laying on a grave

Mournful : feeling, expressing, or inducing sadness, regret, or grief

Exult : feel or show triumphant elation or jubilation

Pulse : a rhythmical throbbing of the arteries as blood is propelled through them, typically as felt in the wrists or neck

Victor : a person who defeats an enemy or opponent in a battle, game, or other competition

Daring : (of a person or action) adventurous or audaciously bold

Sway : move or cause to move slowly or rhythmically backward and forward or from side to side

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Additional Information:

Rating: B

Words: 269

Unique Words : 120

Sentences : 15

Reading Time : 1:11

Noun : 129

Conjunction : 20

Adverb : 8

Interjection : 0

Adjective : 20

Pronoun : 24

Verb : 36

Preposition : 10

Letter Count : 1,071

Sentiment : Positive

Tone : Neutral (Slightly Conversational)

Difficult Words : 46

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