Dead Poets

The following is from Walden from Henry David Thoreau (you can read it online here through Project Gutenberg).

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.

We’re acquainted with the beginning of that passage because of this movie:

Dead Poets Society always makes me want to do something, to sound my own barbaric yawp, to create, to build community, to read literature, to let words seep into my brain like syrup into a pancake, to become saturated with language (the way pancakes are always saturated with syrup when children and certain discerning adults eat them), to make art, to dance, sing, play the clarinet, write, find friends and share poems with them, to find poetry residing deep in the depths of my person and to bring it forth!

Today, I challenge you to first read some dead poets. And then, having read the dead poets, sound your own barbaric yawp, roaring out your art to the world, proclaiming the stuff that is within you. As Chesterton writes in Heretics

It is healthful to every sane man to utter the art within him; it is essential to every sane man to get rid of the art within him at all costs.

And so, to close, Uncle Walt, number 52 from Leaves of Grass:

The spotted hawk swoops by and accuses me—he complains of my gab and my loitering.

I too am not a bit tamed—I too am untranslatable;
I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.

The last scud of day holds back for me;
It flings my likeness after the rest, and true as any, on the shadow’d wilds;
It coaxes me to the vapor and the dusk.

I depart as air—I shake my white locks at the runaway sun;
I effuse my flesh in eddies, and drift it in lacy jags.

I bequeathe myself to the dirt, to grow from the grass I love;
If you want me again, look for me under your boot-soles.

You will hardly know who I am, or what I mean;
But I shall be good health to you nevertheless,
And filter and fibre your blood.

Failing to fetch me at first, keep encouraged;
Missing me one place, search another;
I stop somewhere, waiting for you.

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