Monday’s Verse: Nov. 10, 2008

Readers, sorry ’bout last week, I was, um, busy. Who better to read on the first Monday after Tuesday but Walt Whitman, most inclusive, most civic-minded, of all American poets. Yes, this is a poem about death, but it is also a celebration (I’ll let someone else explain of whom). Note how the emotional tone ranges from mournful to exultant–how does he do that? For me at least, I had emotions spanning such a range for most of last week.* You?

best as always,

Matthew

*An Onion headline read, “After Election, Fervent Obama Supporters Must Face the Emptiness of Their Own Lives.”

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!
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 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.

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