Friday 21 September 2012

What happened to the Dead Poets?

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In 1989, when I was in my mid-teens (and at a rather impressionable age) a friend and I saw the film 'Dead Poets Society'. If you've never seen it, the plot centres around a boys prep school (I imagine in New England) and a new English teacher and his class. The teacher departs from the traditional forms of learning of the school and instead inspires his students to 'seize the day' and instils in them a love of poetry.

I loved the film, the poems and the inspiration it gave me similar to that which it gave the young students.

This is not about the actors in the film and what happened to them (great actors though they were), but more about how life changes in those 20 years between your inspired teens and your mid-thirties.

The theme of the film (which appeals to the young everywhere) was Carpe Diem (seize the day). This is most memorably encapsulated when the first line of the poem "To the Virgins" by Robert Herrick is quoted "Gather ye rosebuds while ye may". That is the inspiring line; the rest of the poem is less uplifting - but is pretty much how you get from 14 to 37:-

GATHER ye rosebuds while ye may,   
  Old Time is still a-flying:   
And this same flower that smiles to-day   
  To-morrow will be dying.   

The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,            
  The higher he 's a-getting,   
The sooner will his race be run,   
  And nearer he 's to setting.   

That age is best which is the first,   
  When youth and blood are warmer;   
But being spent, the worse, and worst   
  Times still succeed the former.   

Then be not coy, but use your time,   
  And while ye may, go marry:   
For having lost but once your prime,   
  You may for ever tarry.

And the last two verses; laying aside the marriage aspect; are what happens. The energy and enthusiasm of youth begin to dissipate as school and university vanish in the rear view mirror and the realities of jobs and responsibility come around.

Time is precious and it short demand (more so, I imagine if you have children) and plans and dreams have to be tailored to meet the physical, financial and temporal resources available.

There are ways to make your time go further (ask any self improvement blog) or indeed the turn of the century time management book I read - but the important thing, the most important thing, is to reconnect with the plans and the dreams. Find time for your hobbies and interests; and if you get time (just for kicks) read some poetry again.