Definition

One must make a distinction however: when dragged into prominence by half poets, the result is not poetry, nor till the autocrats among us can be “literalists of the imagination”—above insolence and triviality and can present for inspection, imaginary gardens with real toads in them, shall we have it.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Get Listed - August - Carpe Diem

Robin Williams passed on August 11th, evidently a suicide.

Some people intensely disliked Williams, or grew tired of his mania. Perhaps he did, too. I, for one, have never laughed quite so hard as his HBO Specials - here is the 2009 show in its entirety, Weapons of Self Destruction.

I'll leave it to others to parse the relationship between genius or artists, and depression, and instead focus on the movie that links him to us. Of course, this is Dead Poets Society.

William's character, John Keating, has his students rip out the forward to a poetry book that claims there exists a mathematical formula to determine if a poem is great. He then tells them:


We don't read and write poetry because it's cute - we read and write poetry because we're members of the human race.

The scene ends with Keating reciting Walt Whitman's O Me! O Life!, part of Leaves of Grass - recently re-introduced to the public eye with William's recitation the voice-over in the Apple's iPad TV advertisement. With eerie prescience, Chief Toad Kerry O'Connor posted O Me! O Life! in this week's Open Link Monday:
The powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse; what will your verse be? 

Later in the film, Keating exhorts his students to Seize the Day - Carpe Diem, in the Latin.

And he is finally honored by several students despite being railroaded out of the school, as they climb on top of their desks, proclaiming him, O Captain! My Captain! - another famous Whitman pen.

It is ironic, then, the final couplet:
Walk the deck my captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

The film had no reference to beat poets, which irked some critics as it was set in 1959. However, Whitman was prominently featured, along with Frost, Thoreau, Byron - lots of dead poets in that society. If there are other Hollywood films about poets, none come to mind.

Originally, I had a different word list prepared, but William's suicide reminded me of other word-smiths who chose the same path, like Plath and Bukowski and Sexton, and so I hurriedly composed this not-quite-honorarium, in the hopes of reminding each of us to reach out for help when even the moon is dark.

So for your inspiration today, consider spending a little time with your own demons, or your own favorite poets, dead or living. Then, choose at least 3 words of the following list - taken from dialog in the film - compose a *new* pen, and post it to Mr. Linky.

worm, verse, dreams, suck, rout, daring, caution, seize, dead, desperation, barbaric, noble

We ask that you return frequently to visit the other poets links - and please comment, if so inspired - I suspect that we all could use the feedback.

Carpe Diem



21 comments:

Helen said...

... thank you.

juzta mom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
juzta mom said...

Thank you for sharing the scenes. I loved the movie. It is a piece of art. Almost every scene is art work. And may we all know when to reach out for help. Depression/mental illness still remains one of the most difficult diseases to handle. There is so much human factor involved along with medical science, most of the time it becomes almost impossible to come out of it.

jo-hanna said...

"in the hopes of reminding each of us to reach out for help when even the moon is dark"

Don't know whose line this is, but having it here is pure genius.
I'd rather write to that than the [not so random] words in the list.

grapeling said...

jo-hanna, it's my line, and you are welcome to write to it rather than the word list (which I should have explained, come from dialog in the movie). ~ M

Fireblossom said...

I'm so glad you chose this subject. I tried to write a post about Robin Williams, and about addiction, last night, but it didn't turn out. Now i can try a poem.

Marian said...

this is lovely, Grapeling. gosh i (surprisingly) wrote on the subject already but i like the list and love the film so i'll try to create something different with these words. thank you.

manicddaily said...

I've been so sad thinking about Robin Williams. I've been in a kind of overwork hell but hope I can get some time for this. Thanks. K.

Kerry O'Connor said...

I don't know the exact reason why I have been so effected by William's death, perhaps because he made such a huge impression on me as Garp. I always saw a compassionate heart and intelligence behind the acting face. I seldom weep for the deaths of celebs but I shed many tears yesterday. As a young teacher, of English, Dead Poet's Society had a profound influence on my methods and motivation. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to put thoughts into words at this time.

Magaly Guerrero said...

Thank you for this wonderful prompt. It will rip so many things out of most of us...

Jazzbumpa said...

The daughter of one of my friends committed suicide just before her 22nd birthday. Both parents were deeply involved in helping her, and she was receiving professional care.

She promised to call her father before doing anything drastic

Yet, when the moon was darkest, instead of reaching out, she picked up a gun.

Such pain for everyone.

JzB

Jim said...

I liked the post and learned from it. My muse wasn't very poetic again today but my *pen*/i.e. *keyboard* was active.
Sorry, but not sorry, I also editorialized a small bit.
..

Björn Rudberg said...

This was very apt for today.. I did my best to write something.. I read that by being there at the right moment is all that's really needed to prevent suicide.. to listen and let them talk... but you have to reach out... constantly, as JzB writes.. in that darkness when you are alone any agreement is void.

Marian said...

this helps a bit. Russell Brand.
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/aug/12/russell-brand-robin-williams-divine-madness-broken-world

Susan said...

Just stopping by to thank you for your insightful essay and its accompanying films. I am the same age as Robin Williams, but without as much to live up to and into and perhaps more to live for. Who knows his reason, if 'twere reason at all. Here's my poem on the subject: http://susanspoetry.blogspot.com/2014/08/robbing-death.html

Grace said...

Thanks M for the lovely prompt and remembrance of Robin ~ I will always remember the funny man & his laughter will stay with me ~

zongrik said...

It hurts to see that he died.

Carrie Van Horn said...

Such a fitting prompt...I so loved Robin Williams and the movies that he did. Certainly a talented man.

Kerry O'Connor said...

Mine is so late but I could not let this week go by without paying my respects.

Susie Clevenger said...

I am late...Robin's death has stirred the demons I once fought. Thankfully I no longer live beneath their shroud.

Susie Clevenger said...

grapeling, your blog wouldn't let me leave a comment so I am posting it here...Yes, I too wonder what a seed dreams and if it is besieged by a preaching Dante worm preaching purgatory...such a unique twist on the challege