April 15, 2015

Requiem in pax

Lowering the flag to half staff
Today our nation marks the 150th anniversary of the death of President Abraham Lincoln.  Lincoln was shot around 10pm on April 14 but he didn't die until 7:22am the next day.  President Obama ordered all flags to flown at half staff today so I decided to bring my AP Government and Politics class outside to lower the flag, say the Pledge of Allegiance, and to then read the Walt Whitman poem "O Captain! My Captain!"  Whitman wrote the poem as an ode to Lincoln shortly after he died and it became famous again thanks to the 1989 film "Dead Poet's Society."

I read the opening stanza as our opening prayer this morning but below is the entire poem:

Seniors reading "O Captain! My Captain!"
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.

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