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Word Count: 1,149
EXPLANATION O Captain My Captain Lines 1-4 The first lines of the poem serve to begin the controlling metaphor upon which the rest of the poem builds A metaphor is simply a figure of speech in which one thing is substituted for another and a controlling metaphor is a metaphor that impacts controls or unifies the entire poem In this poem the Captain is a substitute for Abraham Lincoln and the ship is the United States of America The fearful trip is the Civil War which had ended just prior to Lincolns assassination Thus the ship is returning home to cheering crowds having won the prize of victory just as the Union led by Lincoln had returned victorious from the Civil War The utterance O Captain my Captain is particularly interesting in this light In one sense the speaker is addressing his Captain directly but in another respect he seems to be speaking to himself about his Captain The repetition helps to assert the uncertainty he feels at the Captains loss Lines 5-8 Lines 5-8 communicate the unpleasant news that the Captain has somehow fallen dead after the battle More importantly the repetition of heart heart heart communicates the speaker of the poems dismay and horror at realizing that his Captain has died The poem is then as much about the I of the poem and how he comes to terms with his grief how he processes this information as it is about the central figure of the Captain The bleeding drops of red are both the Captains bleeding wounds and the speakers wounded heart Finally these lines function as a broken heroic couplet a two-line rhymed verse that originated in heroic epic poetry and is usually as is the case with these lines written in iambic pentameter The broken lines are called hemistiches and are commonly used as they are here to the underlying rhythm of the poem and to
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