quinta-feira, 5 de maio de 2011

O Captain! My Captain! By Walt Whitman

The biographical content

Walter "Walt" Whitman (May 31, 1819 – March 26, 1892) was the second son of Walter Whitman, a house builder, and Louisa Van Velsor. The family, which consisted of nine children, lived in Brooklyn and Long Island in the 1820s and 1830s. He was one of America’s most influential and innovative poet, also essayist and journalist. A humanist, he was a part of the transition between transcendentalism and realism, incorporating both views in his works. Whitman is among the most influential poets in the American canon, often called the father of free verse though he did not invent it. His work was very controversial in its time, particularly his poetry collection Leaves of Grass, which was described as obscene for its overt sexuality. His revolutionary collection of poems Leaves of Grass was first published in 1855. In Brazil, one of his translators was Vinicius de Moraes.
 Whitman worked as a journalist, a teacher, a government clerk, and–in addition to publishing his poetry–was a volunteer nurse during the American Civil War. Early in his career, he also produced a temperance novel, Franklin Evans (1842). Whitman's major work, Leaves of Grass, was first published in 1855 with his own money. The work was an attempt at reaching out to the common person with an American epic. He continued expanding and revising it until his death in 1892. After a stroke towards the end of his life, he moved to Camden, New Jersey, where his health further declined. He died at age 72 and his funeral became a public spectacle.
 Whitman's work breaks the boundaries of poetic form and is generally prose-like. He also used unusual images and symbols in his poetry, including rotting leaves, tufts of straw, and debris. He also openly wrote about death and sexuality, including prostitution. 
 Whitman wrote in the preface to the 1855 edition of Leaves of Grass, "The proof of a poet is that his country absorbs him as affectionately as he has absorbed it." He believed there was a vital, symbiotic relationship between the poet and society. This connection was emphasized especially in "Song of Myself" by using an all-powerful first-person narration. As an American epic, it deviated from the historic use of an elevated hero and instead assumed the identity of the common people. Leaves of Grass also responded to the impact that recent urbanization in the United States had on the masses.
 Whitman struggled to support himself through most of his life. In Washington, he lived on a clerk's salary and modest royalties, and spent any excess money, including gifts from friends, to buy supplies for the patients he nursed. He had also been sending money to his widowed mother and an invalid brother. From time to time writers both in the states and in England sent him "purses" of money so that he could get by.
In the simple two-story clapboard house, Whitman spent his declining years working on additions and revisions to a new edition of the book and preparing his final volume of poems and prose, Good-Bye, My Fancy (1891). After his death on March 26, 1892, Whitman was buried in a tomb he designed and had built on a lot in Harleigh Cemetery.
History of the poem

This famous civil war poem by Walt Whitman was written in memory of President Lincoln, who was assassinated on April 14, 1865, after the civil war had ended in abolishing slavery in the United States.  
The poem ensures Whitman’s admiration for Abraham Lincoln, for he is the captain to whom the poem is addressed. He pays tribute to the dead president. The poem is an elegy; it takes the form of an Ode, characterized by sustained noble sentiment and appropriate dignity of style, normally a serious poem on an exalted subject. ”O Captain! My Captain!” is an extended metaphor poem. Lincoln is the captain who has “fallen cold and dead”; the “fearful trip” is the civil war; “the prize we sought” is the preservation of the Union, something worth for fighting; “the ship” is the United States of America. His grief is emphasized by contrasting celebrations of victory and sorrows of death. Whitman knows the importance of the victory of the civil war but he cannot take part in the festivities because his leader is dead. The image of the dead captain hunts the poem and the reader is constantly reminded that the captain has “fallen cold and dead”. The poem begins with the narrator feeling overjoyed because “the fearful trip is done”, however, the mood swings from enthusiasm to sorrow once the narrator realizes that the captain is dead. Whitman begins each section with Captain probably to remind the readers that the focus remains on the Captain. Probably Whitman places “fallen cold and dead” at the end of each section to remind the reader of the tragedy.
There is no fixed meter. Whitman refers do the fallen Captain as “father”, representing his deep respect for president Lincoln.


Rack – destruction (esp. in rack and ruin)
Keel – main lengthwise member of base of ship, etc.
Bugle – brass instrument like small trumpet      
Tread – perform (steps etc.) by walking


 Group:Aline; Adriana; Cecília; Leandro;Mariana; Naiana.


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