O Captain My Captain – Walt Whitman

*I know I already mentioned some of this in class, I’m just going more in-depth.*

 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.

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Role Models can have a major effect on the lives of individuals, as shown through walt whitman’s O Captain My Captain. Role Models are more than just people we look up to, they’re people we look at for guidance. the people we sometimes make the mistake of trying to become. although having a Role Model is very beneficial, most of the time we fail to become exactly like our Role Models, which causes frustration. we are unable to mold ourselves into them because we are not them. they have their own unique traits and abilities, which define who they are. it is impossible to replicate these traits and make them our own. in his life time, walt whitman had venerated abraham lincoln, making him his Role Model. walt whitman did not even attempt to be like lincoln, but rather, he devotedly supported him throughout lincoln’s entire campaign. whitman had taken lincoln’s experiences, such as his death, into account when creating many of his poems. just like whitman, i had taken someone in my life to be my Role Model; my older brother, Rehman.

Role Models are stereo-typically seen as perfect. as a child, i was quite troublesome and stubborn. i would be in trouble constantly when, on the contrary, my angelic brother would manage to win the hearts of all who passed him. i was no exception to this. he was perfect. i immediately aspired to be like him, to think like him, to act like him. at first it felt like i was finally going places, until i looked back to him and realized how much farther i had to go. a few years passed by, and i became so frustrated at the fact that i could never reach him. he was always just a couple thousand steps ahead. when i looked back, i began to notice that, in all my insanity and efforts to become like Rehman, i lost what made me Muhammad. back then, it wasn’t that big of a deal for me to lose my identity. i felt as though my identity was inferior, because it wasn’t as praised as Rehman’s. only now do i see how much of my childhood was wasted, taking a small path of guidance and using it as a detailed map. walt whitman was wise enough not to make that mistake when he venerated abraham lincoln. it was clear he held lincoln with great regard, especially when he referred to him as “Captain” and “Dear Father.” but he never once attempted to equate himself and lincoln. that was where i went wrong, and it almost cost me my identity.


Role Models are unique people, yet we persistently follow them in the hopes to replicate their exact demeanor. the realization that we cannot become our Models, but only be guided by them is something i had learned only after my precious time had been consumed. followers also have the tendency to try and find the easy way out. we lose sight of the fact that our Role Models gained their status through hard work. the price they paid was not a painless one. only through the sacrifice of their blood, sweat, and tears were they able to achieve their goals. only after such effort was another path to success carved. and this path is what most followers hope to gain. both of them are people. they were not given any extraordinary blessings by God. Role Models just aren’t afraid of doing work. 

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2 thoughts on “O Captain My Captain – Walt Whitman

  1. Dear Muhammad,

    I see Walt Whitman has left quite an impression on you.

    Just looking back at your poetry seminar had reminded me of my first time in grade 9 visiting the AP LA classroom for the first time, where I had found my role-model basking in the glory.

    Now the idea you present in his piece is a common issue, yet holds so much weight in human hearts because it is something we chose to let define why we are. One thing I definitely do appreciate about your writing is your clarity and your ability to make powerful statements. If you put that to good use you could definitely blow the pants off examiners with critical and personal writing. For instance The line:

    ” when i looked back, i began to notice that, in all my insanity and efforts to become like Rehman, i lost what made me Muhammad.”

    WOW. Those last six words you wrote there are especially pathos heavy, and as someone who can completely relate to this piece I can say that I couldn’t have come up with any better words.

    All I’d recommend you is that you put to use this ability to write short, yet powerful statements, as well I think it would greatly help you if you incorporated some more ‘matter’.

    Best wishes,

  2. Dear Nilave,

    I am more than glad that my poetry seminar had reminded of a past experience that you were willing to share, it gives me the comfort that at least one great mind has been hooked. Yes, Walt Whitman’s poem, to me, serves as a reminder of my previous mistake of allowing myself to be warped by my own ambition, hence I have been impacted quite significantly. But I must add this Nilave, over the course of the year, I have begun to venerate YOU, and have taken you upon as another role-model who I can take guidance from to influence my life in a positive way. In all honesty, what I REALLY love is your soft tone of speaking when you respond or analyze. There’s just something in it that really captures me..something that tells me “Hey, this guy really knows what he’s talking about, better listen up.” I also want to thank you for mentioning my ability to make powerful statements. I never actually knew that, and did most of it unintentionally, but now I plan to do it with motive, so thank you for that! I’ll definitely heed your suggestions to use more of these powerful statements to incorporate matter into my writing. Thanks again for reading my blog and leaving a comment!


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