Analysis Of The Poem ' The ' O Captain ' My Captain ! ' Essay example

Analysis Of The Poem ' The ' O Captain ' My Captain ! ' Essay example

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As a student of literature today I will be critiquing 2 poems and critically analysing the poetic devices used to explore the theme of death. O Captain! My Captain! Written in 1965 by one of America’s most important poets, Walt Whitman. Inspired by the death of American president Abraham Lincoln it is thought to be one of his most memorable and iconic poems. The second poem chosen is Funeral Blues written by WH Auden in 1940. Through the use of poetic techniques the poet of ‘Funeral Blues’ and ‘O Captain! My Captain!’ reflects upon the melancholic theme of death.

The tone that Walt Whitman conveys throughout the poem changes from triumph to despair as the poem progresses. Whitman relates the poem to the events he experienced after the civil war and the assassination of Lincoln. The first stanza focuses on the crowds welcoming home the ship whilst everyone is unaware that their captain has fallen dead. Whitman reflects on the mood being triumphant and ‘the people all exulting’ however the mood then quickly shifts to despair. The second stanza continues reflects upon the ‘shores a-crowding’ calling for the captain and one sailor begging his captain to ‘rise up and hear the bells’. The third stanza focuses on the mournful loss of the captain and no longer mentions the cheering shore only the ‘mournful tread’ of a sailor. Ultimately the poet revels the historical events that took place writing this poem as an elegy. As such the tone in the poem changed from one of triumph to despair reflecting on Whitman’s personal experiences.

Throughout the poem Whitman has carefully used poetic techniques to convey the theme of the poem and create visual imagery. The whole poem was written as an extended metaphor where the tone is evoked through...


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...his personal grief conveying the theme of the poem.

The techniques used by the poet created visual and sound imagery in the first and second stanzas. The poetic devices helped the poet make a deeper emotional connection to the reader. By capitalizing the word ‘Dead’ in line 6 the finality of death is emphasized. Throughout the use of language Auden has created a melancholic mood to express his grief.

Through the use of poetic techniques the poet of ‘Funeral Blues’ and ‘O Captain! My Captain!’ reflects upon the melancholic theme of death. Both poets have conveyed a deeper meaning of their poems by the poetic devices employed such as language, extended metaphors, repetition and many more. O Captain! My Captain! And Funeral Blues are important in showing how poetic techniques can create strong imagery and create a mood that has an emotional effect on the audience.

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