Weekend Diversion: Oh Captain, My Captain!

There is so much good music out there that never, ever hits the mainstream. But if you dig a little bit, you can not only find some good ones, occasionally you hit the gold mine. Such is the case with The Bridge, a Baltimore-based band that I'll almost definitely come see September 5th when they come through Portland. Take a listen to one of my favorite jams of theirs, Jeremiah Jones:

And you know what's something I've never posted as a Weekend Diversion before, somehow? A poem. So, I present to you O Captain! My Captain! by Walt Whitman, a beautifully sad one written just after the death of Abraham Lincoln.

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.

It's a poem that almost everyone has heard of, but that hardly anyone I know has read. It's also one of the most straight-as-an-arrow things about me: that I think Abraham Lincoln was simply a magnificent human being. I hope this oft-forgotten poem touches you a little bit the way it does me.

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I was one of those who had heard of that poem, but not read it, and I share a similar admiration for Lincoln. Thank you for posting this.

I guess that I'm not almost everyone. I had never heard of this, thanks for posting it.

I first heard this poem on the radio the night JFK was assassinated. I was in college then and was deeply affected by these words, as were my roommates. Kennedy was not Lincoln, but the sense of loss was nevertheless very real and Whitman's poem spoke directly to each of us.