10 January 2017 – Dead Poets Society

It’s been years since I’ve seen this movie.

Imagine if every public school still taught Yeats, Keats, Whitman, Browning, and Byron. I don’t know what it’s like in Australia, England, Canada, US etc but it’s not the case here (NZ).

There is something inspiring about the idea of young people gathering to share poetry, creativity and ideas. Any group of people coming to create rather than destroy is always inspiring, especially in the young and impressionable. I wonder how different my life would be if those sorts of positive influences had been around in my informative teenage years. Better or worse? My teenage years created a lot of material.

I forgot how many amazing young actors were in this film. Ethan Hawke. Gale Hansen. Yum.

I am hoping this year will encourage me to spend my time consuming media that is far more intellectually stimulating than vegging on the couch watching Gilmore Girls. I want to be the sort of person who can discuss the difference between Robert Frost or Walt Whitman, not the sort of person who can talk about Lorelai’s favourite shoes.

Today’s poem is where O Captain! comes from. Oh Captain! My Captain by Walt Whitman.

O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won,
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;
                         But O heart! heart! heart!
                            O the bleeding drops of red,
                               Where on the deck my Captain lies,
                                  Fallen cold and dead.
O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills,
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding,
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
                         Here Captain! dear father!
                            This arm beneath your head!
                               It is some dream that on the deck,
                                 You’ve fallen cold and dead.
My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still,
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will,
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;
                         Exult O shores, and ring O bells!
                            But I with mournful tread,
                               Walk the deck my Captain lies,
                                  Fallen cold and dead.
(Walt Whitman)