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Divergence into Tradition: Whitman’s Successful Conventionality in “O Captain! My Captain!”

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Divergence into Tradition: Whitman’s Successful Conventionality in “O Captain! My Captain!”
President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination served as the tragic closing to the American Civil War. Walt Whitman, who idolized Lincoln because he felt that they shared the common goal of uniting the nation, wrote one of his most famous poems, “O Captain! My Captain!” as a lament, portraying the horror he felt after hearing of the loved president’s death. When compared to almost all of Whitman’s other poems, “O Captain! My Captain!” stands out in that the structure and style implemented in the poem do not offer a fair representation of Whitman’s usual writing. The poem garnered much appreciation and commendation, although Whitman did not enjoy the compliments because they had never applied to his regular poetry, and remains popular and well-known even to this day. Because Lincoln’s death reverberated through the United States, Whitman utilizes conceit and allusions, regular end-rhyme, stanzas, and meter in “O Captain! My Captain!” to connect all the people in the United States in mourning a fat...


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