4.3 O Captain! My Captain!

4.3 O Captain! My Captain!

Paraphrase of the poem

The poem ‘O Captain! My Captain!’ is written by Walt Whitman. This is an elegy written on the assassination of American president Abraham Lincoln. The sailor is the speaker in this poem. The captain is referred as Abraham Lincoln.

In the opening stanza, the speaker is addressing to

the captain. The speaker thinks that the captain is very close to him. He tells that their fearful or frightening trip is over. There were many difficulties in the way of ship The ship has overcome every difficulty in its path. They won the prize. They have got success in their mission. The port is near. The speaker can see cheering people and hear ringing church bells. People are celebrating their successful mission. The speaker looks at the steady keel of the ship. The boat/ship appears like ghost ship. The speaker means that something bad will happen. Then the speaker addresses to the heart means to keep courage and will. The captain lies on the deck of ship. He has fallen cold and dead. There are drops of blood on the deck of ship. The speaker notices that the captain is dead.

In the second stanza, the speaker comes to the dead captain’s side. He begs him to rise again and hear the bells. The speaker tells that people are celebrating the victory of captain. They are raising the flag, playing horns, holding flowers and calling their captain. People are eager to welcome the captain. The speaker considers captain as his father. He has put his arm beneath the head of captain. The speaker thinks that the death of captain should be a dream and not a reality.

In the third stanza the speaker tells that his captain does not answer. His lips are pale and still. The captain is like his father. He does not understand the arm of speaker beneath his head. He has no pulse or will. The ship arrives safely in the harbour and drops its anchor. The speaker reminds us that the trip was difficult and dangerous, but the mission was success. The speaker addresses to the shores and bells (American people) to party down. It means that their captain was dead. They should not celebrate it at all.

Warming Up!


1. Discuss the following with your classmates.

(a) What are the important games played in your school?

Ans: Kho-Kho, Kabaddi, Baseball, Football, Cricket are played in my school.

(b) Who are the captains of the various team-games ?

Name them.

Ans: Prachi Takale – Girls team of Cricket Pratik Patil Boys team of Cricket

Vaishnavi kawale – Girls team of Football

Sandip Bhorkar – Boys team of Football

Laxmi Jadhav – Girls team of Kho-Kho

Soham Patil Boys team of Kho-Kho

(c) What is the role played by a team – games captain? What are his/her responsibilities?

Ans: A team games captain has to play an important role. To give victory to team, to lead all players friendly to encourage players to do well, to correct their mistakes, to praise for notable performance.

(d) What is the role of a Captain of a ship? What are the responsibilities of a Captain of a ship?

Ans: The role of a captain of a ship is very important. He has to complete the following responsibilities

*Take care of a ship.

*Keep happy to all sailors.

*Get victory for its nation.

1. In pairs find as many meaningful words as you can from the following grid within five minutes. You can find words horizontally and vertically.

















Margin for Discussion

1) What is the location of the battle ship?

Ans: The location of the battle ship is in the sea near the port.

2) How are the people waiting to welcome the captain of the ship?

Ans: The people are celebrating, raising the flag, playing horns, holding flowers and calling out to the captain.

3) Why is the speaker filled with grief?

Ans: The speaker is filled with grief because the captain lies fallen cold and dead.

4) In what state does the captain lie on the deck?

Ans: The captain lies in cold and dead state on the deck.

English Workshop

1. Pick out from the poem all words related to ‘Ship’. Make a list of them in a Word Register.

a) port

b) captain

c) deck

d) shore

e) voyage

f) victor ship

g) anchored

h) ship

2 Read the poem again and complete the following sentences.

(a) The Captain lies on the deck fallen cold and dead.

(b) The Captain doesn’t answer as his lips are pale and still.

(c) Captain does not feel anything because he has no pulse nor will.

(d) The bugle and flag are to welcome the captain.

3. The poem has a direct reference to the assassination Of President Abraham Lincoln on 15th April, 1865, after the Civil War was won.

Match the symbols/ images in Column A with what they refer to, in Column B.



1. the ship

(c) United States of America

2. the fearful (trip/ voyage)

(e) the deathly Civil War

3. the port

(g) peace after winning the war

4. the bells (ringing)


(f) celebrating ‘ victor

5. Captain

(b) the President of USA

6. anchored safe

(a) victory (in the war)

7. no pulse, nor will

(d) lifeless/dead

4. (A) The Figure of Speech ‘ Apostrophe’ exists throughout the poem. Pick out lines where the poet directly addresses.

(a) the dead Captain

I. O Captain! My Captain! our fearful trip is done

2. O Captain! My Captain! rise up and hear the bells.

(b) the grief in his heart

1. But O heart! heart! heart!

2. O the bleeding drops of red

(c) the sea-shore

1. Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!

(B) Find from the poem, one example of each of the following.

(a) Personification

Ans: The ship has weather’d every rack.

(b) Alliteration

Ans: Rise up – for the flag is flung… for you the bulge trills.

(c) Repetition

Ans: Fallen cold and dead.

(d) Exclamation

Ans: Here captain! dear father!

(e) Tautology

Ans: My captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still.

(f) Antithesis

Ans: From fearful trip, the victor ship.

5. Find and answer in your own words.

(a) What are the signs of the people celebrating victory?

Ans: The people are raising the flag, playing horns, holding flowers and calling out to the captain.

(b) The crowds on the shore are eagerly waiting to felicitate the Captain. How?

Ans: The crowds are raising the flags. They are plasang homes. They are holding flowers. They are calling out to the captain.

(c) What are the signs that the Captain has passed away?

Ans: The following signs show that the captain has passed away –

1) My captain lies fallen and dead.

2) My captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still.

3) My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse not will.

(d) dear father! This arm beneath your head…’ Why do you think the speaker in the poem puts his arm under the Captain’s head?

Ans: I think that the speaker in the poem puts his arm under the captain’s head because he thinks captain should not feel discomfort.

(e) Describe the grief that the speaker in feels at the death of his Captain.

Ans: The speaker is extremely sorrowful captain. The speaker considers the father. It is an irreparable loss for him.

6. Glance through the poem again to speaker addresses in the first last stanza.

Ans; The speaker addresses to the captain in the first two stanzas. The speaker addresses to the shores and bells in the third stanza.

7. Fill the qualities in the diagram given below.


Qualities of a ship’s captain:

courage, naval expert, knowledge of weather signs

Qualities of a Nations’s leader:

leadership, role model, selfless service

Common qualities:

integrity, visionary, confidence, disciplined, sympathetic, foresight, positive good administrator

8. Complete the following choosing alternatives.

(a) The rhyme – scheme of the poem is aabbceded.

(b) The line repeated in every stanza fallen cold and dead.

(c) The steady rhythm in the poem consists of a pattern of three beats.

(d) In the third stanza the speaker does not address the captain.

(e) The type of poem is elegy because it is composed in memory of a passed away personality.

9. The feeling of grief and pain of the speaker in this poem are comparable to those of a great Maratha leader, in spite of winning the battle at a fort in Maharashtra.

Guess who the great Maratha leader was and the Captain who was killed in the battle. Write down other basic historical facts of the above.

Ans: The great Maratha leader was Tanaji Malsure. He fought against Mughal bravely. He was a nobleman/ captain of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s Kondhana fort expedition in 1670. He postponed the marriage of his son Raiba to participate the expedition. Chough he won the fort Kondhana, he was killed in the expedition. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj had some mixed feelings about this incident. He changed the name of fort as Sinhgarh.

10. The poem describes the sad demise of the Captain. How would you console the son of the Captain?

Write a short paragraph using the points given below.

Ans: I would meet the son and all family members of the captain. I would express my grief on the death of captain. I would tell how captain’s death brought irreparable loss to me as well as to the nation. I would tell them about my personal relations with him. I would tell about his work for the nation. His every act was the act of God. The captain became a martyr. He achieved honour in his death. I will console that God may give you strength and courage to face the situation. I will assure that I will be with you in every sorrowful situation.


11. Read the poem. Write an appreciation of the poem in about 12 to 15 sentences.






O Captain! M Captain!



Walt Whitman

Rhyme scheme



Favourite line


Rise up – for you the flag is flung for you the bugle trills. I like this line because it is a touching line. People are celebrating the arrival of captain. They do not know the fact

Theme/ Central idea


The poem is about the death of Abraham Lincoln. The poem is a homage of poet to Abraham Lincoln.

Figures of speech

Apostrophe –

O Captain! My Captain! our fearful trip is done.

Alliteration –

The ship is anchor’d safe and sound

Repetition –

But O heart! heart! heart!

Personification –

The ship has weather’d every rack

Antithesis –

From fear trip, the victor ship

Exclamation –

Here Captain! dear father!

Special feature –

This is an elegy written on the death of Abraham Lincoln. The poem is sadistic in tone. Simplicity is the remarkable feature of this poem. The poem is full of symbols. The ship is the symbol of America. The captain stands for Abraham Lincoln. The poet uses some long lines as well as some short lines.

Why I like/ dislike the

I like this poem because of its straight forward presentation. I like the symbolic use of words in the poem. I like the rhythmic pattern in the poem.

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