Which is kind of a big deal because I’m about two years behind. I should have watched it right before I started Mr. Richey’s AP English class during junior year. In fact, I think I’m going to have a stern talk with him and implore him to change his summer homework assignment to include watching the movie. Or that he show it the first days of class. But that is beyond the point.
The point is, I think, actually, everyone should have to watch it. I think everyone should see the scene with Mr. Keating’s brilliant monologue, which I shall now include:
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!
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. What will your verse be?
I’m really mad at myself for not having seen Dead Poets Society until now. Because for every moment that I doubted myself or what I want to study or how I want to live my life, I could have turned to this movie for comfort. Because for every jeer I get after telling someone that I’m an English major, I could retort with, “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.” Because of that prevailing question, “What will your verse be?” Because in Mr. Keating I saw bits and pieces of all the teachers I’ve adored the most, from the push to be unique, to the understanding, quiet talks and guidance. Because this movie has proven to be a beautiful creation, something much more than just a film I’ll watch once and forget. This is a movie, yes, but also a call to arms, and one that I feel is lacking in our society, especially among some of my peers, these days.
But above all, I love that this movie is an inspiration and a reminder of how I want to live my life.
I hope to be like Mr. Keating (and some of the teachers I’ve had) one day. I hope my verse will be good. I hope it is read time and time again. I do not wish for a life of “quiet desperation” and “not, when I [come] to die, discover that I had not lived.”