Part of my verse



In the 1989 movie Dead Poet’s Society, Robin Williams plays an English teacher at a New England prep school in 1959.  Poetry is his means of conveying important life messages to his students.

In one scene, he quotes some lines from Walt Whitman’s “O Me!  O Life!”, from Leaves of Grass (1892).  A recent commercial for the iPad Air uses the audio from that scene.  But the poem deserves to be considered in full.

A first edition (1855) of Leaves of Grass
A first edition (1855) of Leaves of Grass
Oh me! Oh life! of the questions of these recurring,
Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish,
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew’d,
Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me,
Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined,
The question, O me! so sad, recurring—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 may contribute a verse.

Today, one year to the day after creating this blog and making my first post, I bring the experiment to a close. It’s been a memorable experience on many levels and, as I watched the aforementioned commercial for the nth time, I realized that Augenblick is part of  my own ‘verse’…it’s a short verse, but it’s my contribution to the play, and mine only.

To the readers who’ve enjoyed what I’ve shared over the course of these last twelve months and have told me so, either here or ‘off-line’, I extend a truly heartfelt thank you.

And now, the powerful play goes on…


  • Even in your swan song you challenge me to think beyond the obvious with your understated and carefully pruned prose…

    That we can write – and in writing, suffer, and relish the discomfort of that process, knowing it is truly ephemeral and utterly unique.

    That art can be recycled with flair and vibrancy (the film) and co-opted commercially.

    That it is often the connections or stream-of-consciousness wanderings that art provokes which enrich and sustain in the plodding sordid crowd (the one inside me)

    That the regular steady beat of daily life will pull us into an unconscious march of compliance – if we let it (my favourite scene in DPS – probably mis-remembered)

    That it’s vital, enlivening, scary and profound to stand on a desk and shout ‘Captain, my Captain’.

    That there may only be the moment, but the butterfly ripple spreads unknowably outwards…


  • Hi Jeanne; Its been so many years since Ive seen the Dead Poets Society, Im sure Ive forgotten more of it than I remember! Your blog today will be motivation to watch it again. I enjoyed it very much the first time, and Im sure I will even more the second time! Thank you for the time and effort that youve invested into your blogs over the past year. Ive gained much from them, as Im sure all of your other readers have as well! Youve contributed so much more than a verse already! Dave


  • A sad event, but a classy wrap-up (“one year to the day”). What else would we expect from such a meticulous thinker/writer? I will miss the blog very much, but I know that the next verse in your play will be spectacular…no matter how it is expressed.


  • I will miss your posts. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and insights. You are a gifted writer and thinker


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