Born in Huntington, Long Island. He was self taught and founded the weekly newspaper called the Long Islander. He also finally got his copywrite for Leaves of Grass in 1855. He then traveled to Washington, D.C. To care for his brother who had wounded in the war. He died march 26, 1892 whitman was buried in a tomb he designed in Harleigh Cemetery.
Most of Whitmans poems are free verse, and he was very enthusiastic in his writing themes. He mainly writes about the cycle of life and death. He often writes in a slang or old-fashioned grammar. He most famous poem are "O' Captain, my Captain", "Leaves of Grass" and "Song of Myself".
"O' Captain, My Captain" By: Walt Whitman, 1891
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! The 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 pays tribute to Abraham Lincoln in "O Captain! My Captain!" The poem takes the form of an ode, characterized by sustained noble sentiment and appropriate dignity of style, and as with most odes begins with an apostrophe. The fallen captain, to whom the speaker alludes is Abraham Lincoln. The poem is an extended metaphor: Lincoln is the captain who has "fallen cold and dead," having been assassinated shortly after the Civil War had ended; the "fearful trip" is the Civil War; "the prize we sought" is the preservation of the Union, something which both Whitman and Lincoln felt was the supreme reason for fighting the war; "the ship" is the United States.
The poet's grief is caused by the celebrations of victory and sadnesses of death. The poet recognizes the importance of victory, calling out "Exult O shores, and ring O bells!", but his "mournful tread" prevents him from truly taking part in the festivities. The image of the dead captain, "O heart! heart! heart! O bleeding drops of red", haunts the poem and the reader is constantly reminded that he has "fallen cold and dead."