4.14.2022 – port is near bells hear

port is near bells hear
people all exulting but
with mournful tread walk

On the anniversary of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln in 1865, today’s haiku is based on the poem on the same theme by Mr. Whitman.

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 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.

According to the Library of Congress:

Whitman wrote “O Captain! My Captain!” in response to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln in 1865.

He revised the poem in 1866 and again in 1871. Apparently, the Riverside editors published an earlier version of the poem.

Whitman’s February 9 letter to the publishers details his changes for punctuation and entire lines of text.

Published to immediate acclaim in the Saturday Press, “O Captain! My Captain!” was the only poem from Whitman’s compendium, Leaves of Grass, widely reprinted and anthologized during his lifetime.