O Captain! My Captain! Poetry Comparison

This Storyboard That activity is part of the lesson plans for O Captain! My Captain!


O Captain! My Captain! Text Comparison

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Activity Overview


Students can deepen their understanding of a poem by comparing it to other poems. The process of comparing allows students to use analytical skills and higher order thinking. In this storyboard activity, students will compare “O Captain! My Captain!” to A. E. Housman’s “To an Athlete Dying Young.” Both poems address heroes dying at the height of their glory, but convey different emotions and themes. Have students compare or contrast the poems’ basic events, characters, images, structure, tones, or figurative language. By pointing out similarities and/or differences between these elements, students can then identify the differing themes of the two poems.

You can also have students compare the poem to selections from other genres, including artwork, film, speeches, short stories, and novels.


Other suggestions for comparison:

  • “Elegy for J.F.K.” or “Funeral Blues” by W. H. Auden
  • Brutus’ funeral oration from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar
  • Photographs of President Lincoln or President Kennedy’s funerals

Poetry Comparison Example for O Captain! My Captain!



EVENTS IMPORTANT IMAGES THEMES
O Captain! My Captain! The nation is in the midst of celebrating Lincoln's Civil War victory when he dies. Negative images: pale, cold body and drops of blood Death is tragic: "O heart! heart! heart!"
To an Athlete Dying Young The townspeople are in the midst of celebrating the athlete's victory when he dies. Positive images: unwithered laurels and unchallenged cup Death is fortunate: "Now you will not swell the rout/Of lads that wore their honors out"



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Template and Class Instructions

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Student Instructions

Create a storyboard comparing and contrasting "O Captain! My Captain!" with another piece of poetry.

  1. Use the template provided by your teacher.
  2. Add an additional row.
  3. In the title boxes, select three different things to compare (events, characters, imagery, structure, etc.)
  4. In the first row, describe each of the things as they pertain to "O Captain! My Captain!"
  5. In the second row, describe each of the things as they pertain to your chosen poem.
  6. Illustrate each description with appropriate scenes, characters, and items.
  7. Save and submit your storyboard.
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