Oh Captain, My Captain

In Last Measure of Devotion, there’s a scene with Heskan and his officers enjoying a dinner together when they first arrive on Nessus. Stacey Vernay orders Hollaran bourbon and by the end of the evening she and Heskan have finished the bottle. Vernay starts talking in poetry, quoting lines here and there about a ship that has been in battle and emerged victorious, except with every line her mood turns more and more ominous.

The poem is “Oh Captain! My Captain!” by Walt Whitman and is quite famous, yet I’d never given it much consideration before it was used in a commercial featuring Jonathan Toews, captain of the Chicago Blackhawks (and also nationally by Captain Morgan rum, paying homage to many NHL captains). The local commercial featured video of Toews’s various on-ice heroics, with a voiceover that very selectively pulled lines from the poem:

O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won,
O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won.

My wife and I are big hockey fans, yet every time this commercial came on the air, she would be infuriated. One day in particular she turned to me and said “Do you think Toews knows the captain is dead in that poem?” That’s quite a price to pay for Lord Stanley’s Cup.

So I looked the poem up, and the tie-in to Heskan’s journey in Last Measure of Devotion was both obvious and inspiring. It just goes to show you, writing inspiration comes from the strangest places. Thanks, Walt Whitman, and here’s a link to Oh Captain! My Captain! to help spread your good work.

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