"O Captain! My Captain!" by Walt Whitman describes the champion ship of a naval war. The poem is told through the eyes of one particular sailor on this ship. The ship is docked and safe, and those both on and off the vessel are proud. However, the ship's captain, to everyone's grief, has "Fallen cold and dead" (Line 8). The one loyal sailor laments the death of his captain in words of his own.
The rhyme scheme of the poem is AABBCDED, the last words of the first stanza are "done"(a) "won"(a) "exulting"(b) "daring"(b) "heart"(c) "red"(d) "lies"(e) "dead"(d). This rhyme scheme continues through the last two verses. In the second stanza, the last word of the second line, "trills" (Line 10) slant rhymes with "bells" (Line 9). The rhyme helps in creating a smooth flow throughout the poem.
This poem is an elegy, because it mourns the death of the captain. The captain symbolizes the fallen Abraham Lincoln, who was assassinated after his victory in the American Civil War. The maritime vessel represents the Union during the Civil War. The mentioned "voyage" (Line 19) signifies the Civil War. Lincoln (Captain) did not live long enough to celebrate the Union's (vessel's) victory following the voyage (Civil War).
The message Whitman brings about in the elegy is his grievance for the death of Lincoln. Whitman was known to have liked the President of the time especially greatly. The tone of Whitman's poem is despondent. Throughout the poem, the sailor expresses grief for the loss of the Captain. An irony is presented in the moods of the poem; Contrary to the sense of pride donned by the shipmen, there lingered a sorrow within the hearts of all. .