Hey Look What I Found! Joe D! for 10.8

Here, watch this: Walt Whitman \”O Captain My Captain\” Animation

So I never new that this poem was about the death of Abraham “Slim” Lincoln.

O Captain! My Captain!

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.

Sure, like most people, I’ve heard it before (it was a major plot point in The Dead Poet Society, a movie which, although thought provoking and enjoyable, influenced a generation of posers and wannabes much like Fight Club or that damned “Why So Serious?” line from Dark Knight, which was awesome in the movie, but when your nerdy friend won’t stop saying it, it kind of looses something, but I digress).
Maybe it was the over-use of the end scene of The Dead Poet Society where all the kids climb up on desks and wage a 5 minute protest before giving up and going back to their oh-so-comfortable status quo of trust funds, over-compensating, and wealthy, but distant, parents. Or maybe it was how the poem itself has been condensed into just the title, as merely making a reference to it seems to be as good as knowing all the lines by heart (again, I blame pompous wannabes and the DPS), but now that I know this poem is a final farewell to the first fallen President of the United States, a symbol of America itself, and the loss of innocence that despite multiple wars and other problems, remained an ideal, a last bastion of unwavering American Spirit, that every time I’ve read this poem before, now seems cheap in comparison.

The country was heartbroken, Walt Whitman himself is clearly distraught over what had happened. While reading the entire selection I could almost picture Walt holding Lincoln in his arms, something akin to Michealangelo’s Pieta (Google it).

As I write this, I’m actually a little pissed at The Dead Poet Society. The death of an American President, a man who fought to save the Union and would be remembered for guiding our nation through one of its darkest hours, was held tantamount to Robin Wiliams being fired for being too zany. This is like FDR’s Day of Infamy speech being shang-hied for an iPod commercial or “I Have a Dream” quoted in a GAP ad. There is a disproportionate level of actual human loss to unnecessary crap.

Or maybe I just need a nap.

Run on sentences FTW!

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