Symbolism in O Captain! My Captain!
The most celebrated American poet of the contemporary period, Walt Whitman wrote his most celebrated poem, “O Captain! My Captain!” from the perspectives of great symbolism. The poem adds another stance of symbolism and allegory from the narrative point of view. He wrote the poem to pay tribute to one of the greatest leader ever not only of The United States of America but also of the whole world, Abraham Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln was not only the leader of America but also the kind of movement started all over the nation its waves reached the each and every purview of the world states. His death was pre planned which can also be called an assassination. He was a victim of the bitter conspiracy by his own countrymen. His murder was a cause of political disorder.
The writer, Walt Whitman metaphored the stance of the great leader’s death from the both psychological as well as from the ethical point of view. His murder in the year of 1865 Lincoln was judged from the point of morality.
The present poem is judged as store house of all bereavements of the whole countrymen in reference to his death. And the poem registers the same fact. This is nothing but an apostrophe about Abraham Lincoln. Professor David S. Reynolds admits him also the same fact and also considers him having his moral death. The poem can be assessed from the symbolical point of view. It has different parts that are superbly energized by the poet himself. In the first stanza of the poem, Walt Whitman praises that Abraham Lincoln as the greatest leader ever and at the same time he also says that he and his leader has almost reached the last part of their ‘fearful trip’. Here the fearful trip signifies the joint venture in the American civil war. Here the ship is nothing but referred to the whole country led by the greatest leader, Abraham Lincoln. In which part the poet was selected as the commander. He can see that at the shore the countrymen were going through a rapid mood of enjoyment that was nothing but to signify the taste of victory in civil war. Here, the poet is very much grief stricken for the sudden death of their leader.
Throughout the poem there is deep sense of significance in terms of respect show by the poet to Abraham Lincoln. He calls Lincoln as “My Captain” as ‘My Father’ which symbolizes the fact that the death of Abraham Lincoln was a collective loss but it was a personal loss. The kind attachment the poet has shown here absolutely superb and at the same it takes away our heart not only for the leader but also for its description.
Here, one of the most vital parts of symbolism is prevalent in the spirit of the poem. The ship mentioned in the poem, is nothing but the whole states of America. And in that ship the whole is compared with the soldiers in the civil war in which the writer was a part and the staunchest friend of the American leader, Abraham Lincoln. The American civil war was the country’s bloodiest war in the history. The condition of the ship was described as ‘grim and daring’. According to the latest report in ‘The New York Times in 2012, it is said that the condition of the ship symbolizes the condition of the contemporary situation of the country. The total voyage is powered by the thought of unity that was dreamt by Abraham Lincoln. The President had ever nurtured the thought of uniting the whole part of the country into one. The countrymen faced hard time as well as tough period of war and bloodshed. The ship can also be called a vibrant symbol of Lincoln’s personal life which was nothing but struggle.
The lying body of the captain was lifeless as well as cold as he was no more. The death of the leader was really an apostrophe. The outcome of the war was both sweet and sour as in one part he lost his leader and at the same time they conquered over the Prussians. The poet can hear the charming bells at the shore while at the same time experience the death of their great leader. The people cannot realize that their captain is no more. But only they taste the fruit of the deed that their most favourite leader had done for them. It was the last gift to them from their great leader. If the whole poem can be assessed from the symbolical point of view then there can be lots of ideas and vivacious pictures that point out towards the last journey of their great leader.
The poem by Robert Browning, ‘The Last Ride Together’ registers the last ride of the lover duos. Here, the poet celebrates the last ride with their leader of the country. But his journey is mournful. There has been given a final stop in his life. He paves the way smooth for his countrymen at the cost of his own life. Hence the drawing of the life of such a great legend through the whole poem make it more than a simple level of poetry but it is raised to the level of a death elegy. We are really overwhelmed by the mastery of the poet, Walt Whitman the way he makes whole country proud by a symbolical representation of the whole venture.