The whole poem is an extended metaphor, or metaphorical language that indicates comparison between seemingly disparate objects, for the United States following the Civil War and the killing of Abraham Lincoln. The captain is Lincoln, the trip is the war, and the ship represents the United States, according to the metaphor. Lines 1-4 compare the moon to Lincoln's face during his presidency, while lines 5-8 compare the stars to the soldiers who died in the war.
Whitman also uses this metaphor to compare the dead of both sides to the flowers that grow in their graves. And he suggests that by loving these men we can love one another.
Lincoln was killed on Good Friday, which was also the final day of "Bloody Week" when many Confederate soldiers were killed. Whitman wrote this poem shortly after the death of Lincoln, so he is using history to explain how these two events are similar.
Also relevant to this question is the fact that around the time Whitman wrote this poem the United States was beginning to recover from the devastation of a civil war that had ended only four years earlier. There were still many refugees living in camps across the country, and most people lived in poverty.
In conclusion, Whitman uses metaphor to explain the similarity of the moon and the stars, the deaths of Lincoln and of thousands of soldiers, and the recovery of the country after the war.
Whitman's captain is President Abraham Lincoln (president from 1861-65), whom he compared to, among other things, a maritime captain. The year "O Captain!" was assassinated, Lincoln had just been elected president on his own ticket.
Lincoln led the country through one of its most difficult times ever. He was faced with the task of preserving the union by ending the civil war. He issued many orders to military commanders in the field and made crucial decisions about how to proceed with negotiations toward peace.
Whitman wrote several poems during Lincoln's presidency including "O Captain! My Captain!", which was also used as an anthem by Union soldiers during the war.
In the poem, Whitman compares Lincoln to a great naval captain. He says that like a good captain, Lincoln knows how to navigate through dangerous waters without losing his ship. Also, like a good captain, Lincoln has his crew ready to perform their tasks during difficult times.
Finally, Whitman says that like a good captain, Lincoln has the last word at the end of the poem: "Your soul is like a starry night sky / Yet I know that soon you will die."
Many people think that Walt Whitman was a poet who supported slavery. This is not true.
Whitman used an extensive metaphor to speak to Lincoln's death. Whitman compares Lincoln's terrible demise to that of a captain who is found dead on his ship's deck. He reminds the living of the sacrifices made for them by the dead. You just finished studying 55 terms! Start thinking about term papers and tests now!
Lincoln's death brought an end to a tragic era of American history. During the Civil War, America lost over 600,000 people - nearly one out of every eight Americans. Lincoln's death left a leadership gap at a time when the country needed strong leadership most. The war continued for another year after Lincoln's assassination but it was not clear who would be able to continue what he started. In fact, there were several candidates including Andrew Johnson, but only one of them (Ulysses S. Grant) was able to overcome political obstacles to become our 18th President.
In conclusion, Lincoln's death brought sorrow to America and its people but also hope that new leaders would emerge who could continue the work begun by Lincoln.