In Whitman's Hand


About this Item

Title: O Captain! my Captain!

Creator: Walt Whitman

Date: March 9, 1887

Whitman Archive ID: brn.00001

Source: John Hay Library, Brown University. Transcribed from digital images of the original. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of manuscripts, see our statement of editorial policy.

Editorial note: This manuscript is a signed, dated, handwritten copy of "O Captain! My Captain!," which was published first in 1865. The manuscript was recopied by Whitman, without changes from the version published in 1881, at the request of John Hay, who wrote Whitman in 1887 to request an autograph copy of the poem. The manuscript is stored with a cover letter from Whitman to Hay, which requests payment of $22. A letter from Hay to Whitman dated March 12, 1887, acknowledges receipt of the manuscript and sends a check for thirty dollars in payment. An image of the verso of this manuscript is currently unavailable.

Contributors to digital file: Nicole Gray, Andrew Jewell, Kenneth M. Price, Brett Barney, Nick Krauter, and Heather Morton

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[Page image:]

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

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.


                                                                                       Walt Whitman

                                                                                        March 9 1887


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