Walt Whitman: O Captain! My Captain! (1807 words)


When Walt Whitman published Leaves of Grass in 1855, he believed that in his poetry “[…] he shared three greatnesses – Love, Democracy, and Religion” (Bradley and Blodgett xxiv). His sweeping masterpiece sought to celebrate not only the individual human being, but also the individuality of America as a whole – a democracy of diverse citizens all contributing to the creation of a country unlike any other in the world. How crushing, then, for Whitman to bear witness to his beloved nation turning against itself, its blades of grass now dripping with the blood of both Union and Confederate soldiers. Love, democracy, and religion now hung in the balance. Though Whitman believed the war would hasten the end to the “social …

Citation: McQuillan, Jennifer . "O Captain! My Captain!". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 04 August 2015 [https://staging.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=35583, accessed 07 August 2022.]

35583 O Captain! My Captain! 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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