Friday, January 14, 2011

Fallen cold and dead. (Friday's Sunday's Poem, but no Hot Actress this time, 70)


by: Walt Whitman (1819-1892)

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.


About the poem: Whitman wrote this poem after Lincoln was assassinated. The ship in the poem is our country. The trip is the troubles that the country had been undergoing during the civil war, and Lincoln, of course, is the captain.

It seemed appropriate to me to remind people of what happens when civil disputes about the direction and role of government in society become tinged with the language of violence. Racist conservatives led the country into war and death 150 years ago because they didn't want the government to assault their "rights."

Christina Taylor Green, and the others, may not have been Lincoln (we'll never know how great many of them might have been), but that doesn't make her death (and the woundings and killings of the others) any less of a political act.

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