"O Captain! My Captain!" by Walt Whitman is a popular choice for interpretive reading. Inspired by the death of Abraham Lincoln, this poem combines striking turns of phrase with narrative drive.
Published in 1865, this simple, direct piece was later added to Whitman's ever-evolving "Leaves Of Grass" anthology. Though perhaps Whitman's most famous piece, "O Captain! My Captain!" is hardly representative of Whitman's overall style, which tended more towards experimental prose poetry. Nevertheless, this poem does embody the high drama and deep, unbridled emotion that is indicative of Whitman's work. These are the qualities that have kept this poem popular for recitals and interpretive readings.