O Captain! My Captain!– In Memorium of Robin Williams

A friend of mine posted this excerpt from Walt Whitman’s poem in response to the tragic news of Robin Williams’ death today.

Incidentally, “O Captain! My Captain!” was the first poem I ever memorized, when I was nine years old. I liked the cadence of it, and I may have even known what ‘cadence’ meant at the time. In high school I attended a creative writing class, and the professor had us watch the Dead Poet Society. The famous salute scene struck me as a very appropriate way to express your deep regard and admiration for someone who has earned it. So, here’s to Robin Williams, his family and friends, from someone you inspired with your art and your career.

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.

(Whitman, 1865)

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