A Poem for Presidents’ Day


It is late in the day, but I offer up the following as a poem for Presidents’ Day:

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.

–Walt Whitman

[photo credits: Wikicommons]

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2 Responses

  1. ” This holiday is designated as “Washington’s Birthday” in section 6103(a) of title 5 of the United States Code…”

    calling it “Presidents’ Days” is a particular pet peeve of mine because it lumps the likes of Jimmy Carter in with great, competent Presidents like George Washington.

  2. Jon Campbell says:

    I love that Walt Whitman poem. He uses his words so well that you can evoke a mental image of what he is saying like the Captain being cold and dead on board the ship.