Document from May. 1, 1865

O Captain! My Captain!

  • Full Title

    O Captain! My Captain!

  • Description

    Autograph document signed by Walt Whitman, containing stanzas from “O Captain! My Captain!”, Whitman’s elegy to Lincoln. The poet submitted this document to Charles Aldrich for his collection of autographs, which he donated to the State of Iowa in 1884. Aldrich was the first curator of the State Historical Department of Iowa, now the State Historical Society of Iowa. Although Whitman composed the poem in 1865, the date of this autograph is unknown.

  • Transcription

    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 venel 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 man, 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

    with best wishes prayers & love for the people of Iowa ­- WW

    [Transcription team:

    Megan O., Laney R., Kiersten T., Alexis W.

    New Hampton Middle School, New Hampton, Iowa]

  • Source

    Charles Aldrich Autograph Collection, State Historical Society of Iowa, Des Moines

  • Rights

    Use of this item for research, teaching and private study is permitted with proper citation, and attribution. Reproduction of this item for publication, broadcast or commercial use requires written permission. for permission, please contact State Historical Society of Iowa.

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  • Cite this Item

    Whitman, Walt. "O Captain! My Captain!". Remembering Lincoln. Web. Accessed May 26, 2024.