Sail Forth!

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“…Sail forth! steer for the deep waters only!
Reckless, O soul, exploring, I with thee, and thou with me;
For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go,
And we will risk the ship, ourselves and all.

O my brave soul!
O farther, farther sail!
O daring joy, but safe! Are they not all the seas of God?
O farther, farther, farther sail!”

Walt Whitman

Fragment from 183. Passage to India

(Note: E.M. Forster borrowed the book’s title A Passage to India from this Whitman’s poem)

 
 

Model Kim Nye wearing Ralph Lauren 1992 Spring Summer collection. Ad campaign photographed by Bruce Weber

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A Mourning Poem for Lincoln

Walt Whitman’s notes for a revision of “O Captain! My Captain!”, 1865.

 
 

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.

Walt Whitman

 
 

Robin Williams  as Professor John Keating surrounded by his pupils in Dead Poets Society (Peter Weir, 1989)

 
 

Professor Keating: “O Captain, my Captain. Who knows where that comes from? Anybody? Not a clue? It’s from a poem by Walt Whitman about Mr. Abraham Lincoln. Now in this class you can either call me Mr. Keating, or if you’re slightly more daring, O Captain my Captain.”

To Love and To Part

“It isn’t possible to love and to part. You will wish that it was. You can transmute love, ignore it, muddle it, but you can never pull it out of you. I know by experience that the poets are right: love is eternal.”

E.M. Forster

 
 

Tenor Peter Pears (Britten’s most frequent muse, personal and professional partner), E.M. Forster, Robin Long, Benjamin Britten and Billy Burrell on a boat, 1949