O Captain! My Captain! Summary & Analysis by Walt Whitman

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“O Captain! My Captain!” is an elegy written by Walt Whitman in 1865 to commemorate the death of President Abraham Lincoln. It was first published in Sequel to Drum-Taps (1865), a collection of Whitman’s poems inspired by the events of the American Civil War. The poem is perhaps Whitman’s most famous—which is ironic, since it is far more conventional in meter, form, and subject than much of Whitman’s other work. Although some critics have suggested that Whitman regretted ever writing “O Captain! My Captain!” it undeniably captured the mood of a nation in mourning and has remained one of Whitman’s best-loved and most-quoted poems.

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