Hey everyone, I was thinking about the way people come across poetry and what that initial contact was that introduced us to a poem. Growing up in the 1980’s my first feel for poetry came from Robin Williams and Director Peter Weir’s 1989 film, Dead Poet’s Society. I’m actually sure I’d enjoyed some Shel Silverstein that Mrs. Wagner read us in first grade, but Robin Williams made it epic.
Honestly, aside from a couple of good performances, notably Mr. William’s, the movie isn’t that good. It’s heavy handed and slightly derivative. William’s plays Mr. Keating, an English teacher at an all boys prep school. He’s the righteous fire brand who hopes to fuel the boys out of their ultra conservative 1950’s life. He does it with poetry. William’s is awesome at oration, no doubt benefiting from his years as a stand up comedian. He gives the boys pieces of poetry by Frost, Keats, and Dickinson and fires them up but they don’t ever analyze a damn thing. The writing is kinda weak and he totally blows the meaning of The Road Not Taken. I’ve set through a few commencement speeches that do the same. However to my twelve year old self who was thrilling on the adventures that summer of Batman, Indiana Jones, and even Field of Dreams, the climatic end of Dead Poet’s Society was pretty fantastic. Mr. Keats is being dismissed for his rebel rousing ways and in a show of solidarity, the kids that made up The Dead Poets Society climb atop their desks and break all the rules and recite Walt Whitman’s eulogy to Abraham Lincoln Oh Captain, My Captain. It was pretty cool then and even today. Have a great Memorial Day Weekend and keep up with several things considered here at Mid-American-Culture.
And here’s the Oh Captain ending to the film so I guess spoilers?