In memory of Robin Williams
O Captain! My Captain! I stand today on all the imaginary tables I dared not stand on before you gave me the courage and inspiration to ask myself “what my verse would be”, in the unforgettable movie : “Dead Poet Society”. O Captain! My Captain! I know now that freedom is not a convulsion; it does not come from violence, but from kindness and compassion. Kindness for those we love as well as for those we hate. Mostly, freedom comes from forgiveness to those who hurt us. O heart! heart! heart! O the bleeding drops of red. Get up, heart, stand up, and let go of the illusory prisons that enslave us. I can dance on tables, can’t I? I can climb on trees, fly over the roofs of the city at midnight, and reach mountaintops. I won’t remain quiet, my eyes closed, I won’t stay seated on my chair frozen and still. I will stand on tables and raise my voice and see the world with my own eyes.
O Captain! My Captain! It is my prerogative to have a different view than the one that weighed in on me for so long, isn’t it? It is a colorful, slightly disheveled, unique vision, different than the monotonous, plain one everybody seemed to adopt. Power and happiness lie in discovering one’s own voice and one’s own identity. It is a long road. As for me, finding myself meant moving away from submissiveness and conventionality, away from the hunger for acceptance and the thirst for approval. There was fear and doubt like never before. There were challenges and danger, confusion and loneliness. But there was passion. There was life. O Captain! My Captain! There was love. And freedom started meaning something when, for the first time, I climbed on a table and looked at the world from there. I got a little dizzy, so I laughed a lot and I cried a little, but I kept smiling the whole time. And I still do.
O Captain! My Captain! Our fearful trip will be done. The ship will have weather’d every rack, the prize we will have sought will be won. O Captain, my Captain! You did not fail. You will not die. Exult O shores, and ring O bells! You have inspired so many people and showed them brighter spaces and wider horizons. O Captain! My Captain! You concealed the pain that took your life. Instead, you brought laughter and tenderness in people’s hearts. You had that dignity. You had that great talent. O Captain! My Captain! May you rest in peace. May your soul fly high in the sky, elated and free.
Excerpts from the poem “O Captain! My Captain!” from Walt Whitman
©Joanna Rizk and joannarizk.com, 2014.