Dead Poets Society

I love this movie so much – one of those I think it’s necessary to go back to every few years (like the Star Wars Trilogy). The lines below are wonderful – reminds me of those extraordinary, crystalline moments when a teacher or professor says something that profoundly changes the way you see the world, and thus how you live your life. Also reminds me of why I love English and literature and words.

Meeks. Another unusual name. Seize the
day. Gather ye rosebuds while ye may.
Why does the writer use these lines?

Because he’s in a hurry.

No, ding!

Keating slams his hand down on an imaginary buzzer.

Thank you for playing anyway. Because we
are food for worms lads. Because, believe
it or not, each and every one of us in
this room is one day going to stop
breathing, turn cold, and die.

Keating turns towards the trophy cases, filled with trophies, footballs,
and team pictures.

Now I would like you to step forward over
here and peruse some of the faces from
the past. You’ve walked past them many
times. I don’t think you’ve really looked
at them.

The students slowly gather round the cases and Keating moves behind them.

They’re not that different from you, are
they? Same haircuts. Full of hormones,
just like you. Invincible, just like you
feel. The world is their oyster. They
believe they’re destined for great things,
just like many of you. Their eyes are full
of hope, just like you. Did they wait until
it was too late to make from their lives
even one iota of what they were capable?
Because you see gentlmen, these boys are
now fertilizing daffodils. But if you listen
real close, you can hear them whisper their
legacy to you. Go on, lean in.

The boys lean in and Keating hovers over Cameron’s shoulder.

(whispering in a gruff voice)

Cameron looks over his shoulder with an aggravated expression on his face.

Hear it?
(whispering again)
Carpe. Carpe Diem. Seize the day boys,
make your lives extraordinary.


Thank you Mr. Dalton. Armies of academics
going forward, measuring poetry. No, we
will not have that here. No more of Mr.
J. Evans Pritchard. Now in my class you
will learn to think for yourselves again.
You will learn to savor words and language.
No matter what anybody tells you, words and
ideas can change the world. I see that look
in Mr. Pitt’s eye, like nineteenth century
literature has nothing to do with going to
business school or medical school. Right?
Maybe. Mr. Hopkins, you may agree with him,
thinking “Yes, we should simply study our
Mr. Pritchard and learn our rhyme and meter
and go quietly about the business of
achieving other ambitions.” I have a little
secret for ya. Huddle up. Huddle up!

The boys get up from their seats and gather around Keating in the center
of the class.

We don’t read and write poetry because
it’s cute. We read and write poetry
because we are members of the human race.
And the human race is filled with passion.
Medicine, law, business, engineering,
these are all noble pursuits, and necessary
to sustain life. But poetry, beauty,
romance, love, these are what we stay alive
for. To quote from Whitman: “O me, o life
of the questions of these recurring, of the
endless trains of the faithless, of cities
filled with the foolish. What good amid
these, o me, o life? Answer: that you are
here. That life exists, and identity.
That the powerful play goes on, and you
may contribute a verse. That the powerful
play goes on and you may contribute a verse.

Keating looks up at Todd.

What will your verse be?


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