Quote Me!

O Captain! My Captain!

I know for sure I have written about this before, I think from when I first started my blog here on WordPress and was taking Blogging 101. But my Giggling Followers have grown so much since then, it doesn’t hurt to talk about it again.

I have lots of quotes that I love, that inspire me every day, but the one that always gets my heart full is just O Captain! My Captain! by Walt Whitman. Just the first four words – such power and emotion behind them. And such a connection to my own life.

There are a few reasons why I have selected this. First of all, it reminds me of some teenage boys that I used to work with when I was employed by the evilness which we here in Canada like to call Tim Hortons. One of the boys, 16 at the time, apparently had a little crush on me (which I wasn’t aware of until I left for teacher’s college after almost a year of working together), and every time he would come into work he would ask me where I needed him to work (I was the supervisor) and once told he would go “Yes Captain, my captain!” and walk away. It was adorable. He used to do it with all instructions.

Then, of course, it is also a fabulous moment in the movie The Dead Poet’s Society. Where at the end of the movie (spoiler alert!) the boys all stand on their desks to show support for their teacher who was just fired.

I also used the whole poem when I was in teacher’s college. I was in charge of a poetry unit, and decided to start it with Walt’s full poem. It’s a poem I can’t read and stand in one spot at the same time. I literally had to walk around the desks in order to get it out. It fills me with so much umpf that standing still does it no justice. At first, the kids (in grade 5) followed me with their eyes, by the end of the second line they were focused on the screen reading along with me.

We had a little discussion about it after I had finished reading it to them (one must hear it for the first time, not read it) and the conversation that came out of their little brains was amazing. I gave them a hint of what year it was written. One boy knew immediately it was about Lincoln. Whitman was a great admirer of the president and was heart broken when he was assassinated. They knew about the civil war and made the connection between the ship metaphor and the USA, and one even noticed that the words are shaped like a boat. If you look at it through abstract eyes. It was amazing – and a truly validating moment as an almost teacher.

If you haven’t ever read it, or heard it, please do so. I’ve copied this version from wikipedia, and haven’t altered the formatting of it at all. If you look at it, each stanza does look like a ship. WordPress has altered it a little bit, though. If you know the cadence, read it out loud: it completely alters the experience. Especially if you are the one reading it. As the words go on, your energy rises, heart pumping. Or maybe that’s just what happens to me?

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.

Or, if you prefer, take a listen. Less than 2 minutes of speech.

January 4: Quote me Do you have a favorite quote that you return to again and

again? What is it, and why does it move you?

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