Whitman and Lincoln

The NYTimes online has an ongoing series about the Civil War, started in anticipation of the 2011 anniversary year when we will see lots of attention being paid to the beginning of the Civil War. This blog has already moved in that direction. Today’s entry at the NYT site is by scholar Adam Goodheart, who writes about poet Walt Whitman’s relationship with Abraham Lincoln, particularly by looking at a pocket notebook whose pages are reproduced in an attached digital feature. The notebook is in the Library of Congress collection. Read the NYT feature here, and get the Times if you want more.

Walt Whitman as caricatured in his pocket notebook by an unknown artist, circa 1860. Click here to explore other pages of the poet’s notebook.

A sketch of Whitman on a notebook page (artist unknown). Web photo courtesy of NYT.

One Response to Whitman and Lincoln

  1. Anonymous says:

    One of Walt Whitman’s most famous poems written in 1865 was about the death of Abraham Lincoln. The title “O Captain, My Captain” gained modern notoriety in the movie “Dead Poets Society” with Robin Williams:

    O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done;
    The ship has weathered 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 ribboned 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 anchored 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.