(No.53 of my favourite short poems)
Not in fact a poem this week, but an inspirational monologue on the significance of writing poetry and of the importance of ‘carpe diem’ (translated from the Latin as ‘seize the day’), or the importance of making the most of the present time before it is too late. The thesis is presented in the film ‘Dead Poets’ Society’ in a speech to his pupils by the charismatic English teacher, Mr Keating, who taught his pupils about life, not just about poetry and the English language. Mr Keating was played in the film by Robin Williams.
From ‘Dead Poets Society’ … screenplay written by Tom Schulman
“In my class, you will learn to think for yourselves again. You will learn to savor words and languages. No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world. I see that look in Mr Pitts’ eyes like 19th century literature has nothing to do with going to business school or medical school, right? Maybe. You may agree and think yes, we should study our Mr. Pritcher and learn our rhyme and meter and go quietly about the business of achieving other ambitions. Well, I have a secret for you. Huddle Up…Huddle UP! 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 these are all noble pursuits necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, and love; these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman “Oh me, Oh life! … of the question of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless … of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these? Oh me, Oh life.” “Answer…that you are here – that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. … What will your verse be?”
Watch “Robin Williams – What will your verse be? – excerpt from Dead Poets Society” on YouTube . . .
Mr Keating’s speech from ‘Dead Poets’ Society’
Thomas H. Schulman ( 1950 – 2016) is an American screenwriter best known for his semi-autobiographical screenplay Dead Poets Society. The film won the Best Screenplay Academy Award in 1989, and was nominated for Best Picture and Best Director. (From Wikipedia)
Robin McLaurin Williams (1951 – 2014) was an American stand-up comedian and actor. Starting as a stand-up comedian in San Francisco and Los Angeles in the mid-1970s, he is credited with leading San Francisco’s comedy renaissance. (From Wikipedia)