Friday, June 01, 2007

Poetry Friday 52

It was Walt Whitman's birthday yesterday, so I thought I'd share with you a couple of his poems of which I'm fond:

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 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.

This poem was, of course, made more famous by its use in the Robin Williams film, Dead Poets Society, which film I confess I love, not least because of its emphasis on poetry and its use of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream (which, at present, is the one Shakespeare play I most want to see live).

A noiseless patient spider

A noiseless patient spider,
I mark'd where on a little promontory it stood isolated,
Mark'd how to explore the vacant vast surrounding,
It launch'd forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself,
Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them.

And you O my soul where you stand,
Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space,
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres to connect them,
Till the bridge you will need be form'd, till the ductile anchor hold,
Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul.

Don't we all do this - throw out bits of ourselves (not necessarily our souls - depending on your belief or not in souls), hoping to find someone or something to give us an anchor in life... ?

I love the last line of that first verse - just the way it rolls off my tongue as I say it...


Anonymous said...

Yet again, we are in synch. I posted "A child said What is the grass?" from Song of Myself for the very same reason, after deciding NOT to post "O Captain! My Captain!"

Michele said...

We're so in synch, I just posted a similar comment about our synchronicity on your LJ !! Wow !!

Elaine Magliaro said...


You and Kelly F. may think you're in synchronicity--but HipWriterMama, Bookbk, and I all posted the same poem today! What are the odds? FYI: That's a rhetorical question.

Okay, I've got a title for your ode to Doctor Who: O Doctor! My Doctor! What do you think? FYI: That's not a rhetorical question.

Michele said...

I'd imagine the odds are fairly highly against three Bloggers posting the exact same poem on Poetry Friday (I know it's a rhetorical question, but what the heck, I'm in a speculative mood !)

O Doctor, My Doctor - hmm - I thinking "parody" of Whitman... I wonder if I could do it... May give it a go over the weekend, if I can tear my brain away from the seething cauldron of fiction ideas that's currently in there... Too tired to try it tonight (it's almost 9 pm - bedtime for this lark!)