Sunday

Apr. 14, 2002

O Captain! My Captain!

by Walt Whitman

SUNDAY, 14 APRIL 2002
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Poem: "O Captain! My Captain!" from Memories of President Lincoln, in Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman.

O Captain! My Captain!

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.


On this day in 1935, a severe dust storm hit the plains states, and the day became known as Black Sunday. Cars came to a standstill, and people were caught in their own yards, nearly unable to find their way inside.

Shortly before midnight on this date in 1912, the ocean liner Titanic struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic, 400 miles south of Newfoundland. The cruise ship, on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York, stayed afloat well over two hours before breaking in two and going down. The liner Californian, less than 20 miles away, could have saved most of the passengers had its radio operator been on duty to hear the Titanic's distress calls.

It's the birthday of English historian Arnold Toynbee, born in London (1889). His major work was the 12-volume History of the World.

It's the birthday of French writer and critic Anatole France, born Jacques Anatole François Thibault in Paris (1844). His books include The Gods Are Athirst (1912), The Revolt of Angels (1914), and Penguin Island (1908), in which penguins have been baptized in error by a nearsighted priest. France, who said, "The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread."

On this day in 1828, lexicographer Noah Webster received the copyright for his American Dictionary of the English Language, on which he had worked alone for more than 35 years. It was the first truly American dictionary, featuring American spelling, punctuation, and pronunciation.

On this day in 1865, President Abraham Lincoln was shot at Ford's theater in Washington, D.C., while attending a play. He died the next morning.


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