Mar 12 2008

Poetry in Movies: Dead Poets Society

Published by at 12:07 pm under Movies,Poetry

Any list of poetry in the movies has to include “Dead Poets Society.”

Dead Poets Society (DVD)

As much as being a movie about poetry, Dead Poets Society is a movie about how to live life, how to grow into a full human being, rather than simply meet societal expectations and then die.

Here’s a quote from the movie I really like:

“I’ve a little 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. Now medicine, law, business, engineering — these are 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 fill’d with the foolish…
What good amid these, O me, O life?

That you are here—that life exists, and identity;
That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse. [full text]

That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?”

— Robin Williams, Dead Poets Society

Here is the full text of the Whitman poem he refers to in the video clip, “O Captain! My Captain!”

And the Robert Herrick poem, “To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time” that he has the boys recite.

What were your reactions to Dead Poets Society the first time you saw it?

4 responses so far

4 Responses to “Poetry in Movies: Dead Poets Society”

  1. Joanneon 12 Mar 2008 at 3:30 pm

    The first time I saw Dead Poet's Society I felt a rush of exhilaration. The "seize the day'' line stayed with me for years and it still puts wings under me when fear threatens to surface and stop me from doing what I love and know I must do. The movie is one of my all time favourites still – as is Walt Whitman's poetry.

    Warmest regards,


  2. Ivan M. Grangeron 14 Mar 2008 at 1:00 am

    Yes, carpe diem — "Seize the day!" That line helped me through some rough periods as a young man, when life felt bleak. It taught me to reach out and live my life, rather than feel like a stranger in it. That line meant a lot to me too.


  3. Maxon 13 Jan 2009 at 12:28 pm

    Hi there !!!

    I just read the poem from dead poets socity, i´ve been looking to it I I found in your blog. check my blog if you have time.Thx !!!

  4. DevilPoeton 14 Jan 2009 at 3:23 am

    I have seen the film Dead Poet Society almost two years back when I was visiting USA.Its a great film.

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