O Captain! My Captain! by Walt Whitman

“But I, with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

This poem is an elegy, or a mourning poem, honoring the death of the 16th American president Abraham Lincoln.

Duration: 04:25 (about 4 minutes)
File Size: 3.08 MB
Download: O Captain! My Captain! – MP3

Recording Copyright © 2015 Nikolle Doolin


O Captain! My Captain!

by Walt Whitman

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.

Published: 1865

Added to Poetry on February 4th, 2015.

Annabel Lee by Edgar Allan Poe

“I was a child and She was a child,
In this kingdom by the sea,
But we loved with a love that was more than love—
I and my ANNABEL LEE—”

The narrator mourns the loss of a woman he dearly loved.  He believes that envious angels took his love from him, but he will not allow death to part them.

Duration: 02:55 (about 3 minutes)
File Size: 2.07 MB
Download: Annabel Lee by Edgar Allan Poe – MP3

Recording Copyright © 2013 Nikolle Doolin



by Edgar Allan Poe

It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden lived whom you may know
By the name of ANNABEL LEE;—
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
Than to love and be loved by me.

I was a child and She was a child,
In this kingdom by the sea,
But we loved with a love that was more than love—
With a love that the wingéd seraphs of Heaven
Coveted her and me.

And this was the reason that, long ago,
In this kingdom by the sea,
A wind blew out of a cloud by night
Chilling my ANNABEL LEE;
So that her high-born kinsmen came
And bore her away from me,
To shut her up, in a sepulchre
In this kingdom by the sea.

The angels, not half so happy in Heaven,
Went envying her and me;
Yes! that was the reason (as all men know,
In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of the cloud, chilling
And killing my ANNABEL LEE.

But our love it was stronger by far than the love
Of those who were older than we—
Of many far wiser than we—
And neither the angels in Heaven above
Nor the demons down under the sea
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
Of the beautiful ANNABEL LEE:—

For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful ANNABEL LEE;
And the stars never rise but I see the bright eyes
Of the beautiful ANNABEL LEE;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling, my darling, my life and my bride
In her sepulchre there by the sea—
In her tomb by the side of the sea.

Published: 1849

Added to Poetry on November 3rd, 2013.

To Hope by John Keats

“Sweet Hope, celestial influence round me shed,
Waving thy silver pinions o’er my head.”

The poet solicits Hope to turn his dark days into brighter ones.

Duration: 05:00 (about 5 minutes)
File Size: 3.5 MB
Download: To Hope by John Keats – MP3

Recording Copyright © 2010 Nikolle Doolin




When by my solitary hearth I sit,
And hateful thoughts enwrap my soul in gloom;
When no fair dreams before my “mind’s eye” flit,
And the bare heath of life presents no bloom;
Sweet Hope, ethereal balm upon me shed,
And wave thy silver pinions o’er my head.

Whene’er I wander, at the fall of night,
Where woven boughs shut out the moon’s bright ray,
Should sad Despondency my musings fright,
And frown, to drive fair Cheerfulness away,
Peep with the moon-beams through the leafy roof,
And keep that fiend Despondence far aloof.

Should Disappointment, parent of Despair,
Strive for her son to seize my careless heart;
When, like a cloud, he sits upon the air,
Preparing on his spell-bound prey to dart:
Chace him away, sweet Hope, with visage bright,
And fright him as the morning frightens night!

Whene’er the fate of those I hold most dear
Tells to my fearful breast a tale of sorrow,
O bright-eyed Hope, my morbid fancy cheer;
Let me awhile thy sweetest comforts borrow:
Thy heaven-born radiance around me shed,
And wave thy silver pinions o’er my head!

Should e’er unhappy love my bosom pain,
From cruel parents, or relentless fair;
O let me think it is not quite in vain
To sigh out sonnets to the midnight air!
Sweet Hope, ethereal balm upon me shed.
And wave thy silver pinions o’er my head!

In the long vista of the years to roll,
Let me not see our country’s honour fade:
O let me see our land retain her soul,
Her pride, her freedom; and not freedom’s shade.
From thy bright eyes unusual brightness shed—
Beneath thy pinions canopy my head!

Let me not see the patriot’s high bequest,
Great Liberty! how great in plain attire!
With the base purple of a court oppress’d,
Bowing her head, and ready to expire:
But let me see thee stoop from heaven on wings
That fill the skies with silver glitterings!

And as, in sparkling majesty, a star
Gilds the bright summit of some gloomy cloud;
Brightening the half veil’d face of heaven afar:
So, when dark thoughts my boding spirit shroud,
Sweet Hope, celestial influence round me shed,
Waving thy silver pinions o’er my head.

-Published in 1817

Added to Poetry on March 24th, 2010.


The podcast A History of the World in 100 Objects (learn more here), contains an episode on the statue of Ramesses II. If you listened to the Audio Literature Odyssey episode “Six Sonnets by Various Authors,” then you may recall Shelley’s sonnet “Ozymandias.” This sonnet is about the statue referred to in their program. Shelley and fellow poet Horace Smith had a competition between themselves to write about the statue. Shelley’s work is better known.

To listen to the sonnet, visit the episode. If you want to know the history of the statue and the implications of the sonnet, visit A History of the World in 100 Objects and download the podcast episode 020 Statue of Ramesses II 12 Feb 2010. More information about the statue can be found on the British Museum’s site.

Added to Poetry on February 18th, 2010.

Six Sonnets by Various Authors

This episode contains sonnets by Sir Thomas Wyatt, Henry Howard, Edmund Spenser, William Shakespeare, John Donne, and Percy Bysshe Shelley.  A sonnet is a lyric poem made up of fourteen lines in iambic pentameter, which adheres to a strict rhyming scheme (one of various). Sir Thomas Wyatt and Henry Howard are credited with introducing the sonnet to England, while Shakespeare is credited with having perfected it.  The sonnets below appear by the birth order of the authors.

Duration: 00:08:37 (about 8 minutes)
File Size: 8 MB
Download: Six Sonnets by Various Authors – MP3

Recording Copyright © 2009 Nikolle Doolin


Thomas Wyatt

Thomas Wyatt

Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503–1542)


Farewell, Love, and all thy laws for ever;
Thy baited hooks shall tangle me no more:
Senec and Plato call me from thy lore,
To perfect wealth, my wit for to endeavour;
In blind errour when I did persever,
Thy sharp repulse, that pricketh aye so sore,
Taught me in trifles that I set no store;
But ‘scaped forth thence, since liberty is lever:
Therefore, farewell, go trouble younger hearts,
And in me claim no more authority;
With idle youth go use thy property,
And thereon spend thy many brittle darts:
For, hitherto though I have lost my time,
Me list no longer rotten boughs to clime.

Henry howard

Henry Howard

Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey (1517–1547)


Divers thy death do diversely bemoan:
Some, that in presence of thy livelihed
Lurked, whose breasts envy with hate had swoln,
Yield Caesar‘s tears upon Pompeius‘ head.
Some, that watched with the murderer’s knife,
With eager thirst to drink thy guiltless blood,
Whose practice brake by happy end of life,
With envious tears to hear thy fame so good.
But I, that knew what harboured in that head;
What virtues rare were tempered in that breast;
Honour the place that such a jewel bred,
And kiss the ground whereas the corpse doth rest;
With vapoured eyes: from whence such streams availe,
As Pyramus did on Thisbe‘s breast bewail.

Edmund Spenser

Edmund Spenser

Edmund Spenser (1552–1599)


One day I wrote her name upon the strand,
But came the waves and washed it away:
Agayne I wrote it with a second hand;
But came the tyde, and made my paynes his pray.
“Vayne man,” sayd she, “that dost in vaine assay
A mortall thing so to immortalize;
For I my selve shall lyke to this decay,
And eke my name bee wyped out lykewize.”
“Not so,” quod I; “let baser things devize
To dy in dust, but you shall live by fame:
My verse your vertues rare shall eternize,
And in the hevens wryte your glorious name.
Where, when as death shall all the world subdew,
Our love shall live, and later life renew.”

William Shakespeare


William Shakespeare (1564-1616)


When I do count the clock that tells the time,
And see the brave day sunk in hideous night;
When I behold the violet past prime,
And sable curls, all silvered o’er with white;
When lofty trees I see barren of leaves,
Which erst from heat did canopy the herd,
And summer’s green all girded up in sheaves,
Borne on the bier with white and bristly beard,
Then of thy beauty do I question make,
That thou among the wastes of time must go,
Since sweets and beauties do themselves forsake
And die as fast as they see others grow;
And nothing ‘gainst Time’s scythe can make defence
Save breed, to brave him when he takes thee hence.

John Donne

John Donne

John Donne (1572-1631)


Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou are not so;
For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul’s delivery.
Thou’art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy‘or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke; why swell’st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.

Percy Shelley

Percy Shelley

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)


I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shatter’d visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp’d on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock’d them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Added to Poetry on November 21st, 2009.

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