Carpe Diem

Below is the script for the scene from 'Dead Poet's Society' in which Mr Keating, played by Robin Williams, first meets his class. The scene sets the mood for the interactions with the class and encourages the boys to think about thier place in the world.


Students enter Keating's classroom, talking and acting up.Keating glances out from his room off to one side.


Hey Spaz, Spaz.

Spaz turns around in time to be hit by a ball of crumpled up paper while Cameron smacks him on the shoulder.


Brain damage.

The students quickly quiet down as Keating emerges from the other room, whistling the 1812 Overture. He walks up the length of the classroom and out the door without a word. The students look around at one another, uncertain of what to do. Keating pokes his head back in the doorway.


Well come on.

He gestures them to follow and the students, after some hesitation, grab their books and follow Keating out into the main entranceway.


Keating stands before the school's trophy cabinets and waits until all the boys arrive.


"Oh Captain, My Captain" who knows where that comes from?

Todd looks up as if he knows the answer, but says nothing. Spaz blows his nose a little too close to Meeks for his liking.


Not a clue? It's from a poem by Walt Whitman about Mr. Abraham Lincoln. Now in this class you can call me Mr. Keating. Or, if you're slightly more daring, Oh Captain, My Captain.

The students laugh slightly.


Now let me dispel a few rumors so they don't fester into facts. Yes, I too attended Hell-ton and survived. And no, at that time I was not the mental giant you see before you. I was the intellectual equivalent of a ninety-eight pound weakling. I would go to the beach and people would kick copies of Byron in my face.

The boys laugh once again, while Cameron, obviously trying to write all this down, looks around confusedly. Keating looks down at papers in his hand.


Now, Mr… Pitts. That's a rather unfortunate name. Mr. Pitts, where are you?

Pitts raises his hand while everyone around him snickers.


Mr. Pitts, would you open your hymnal to page 542 and read the first stanza of the poem you find there?


"To the virgins, to make much of time"?


Yes, that's the one. Somewhat appropriate, isn't it.


"Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, old time is still a flying, and this same flower that smiles today, tomorrow will be dying."


Thank you Mr. Pitts. "Gather ye rosebuds while ye may." The Latin term for that sentiment is Carpe Diem. Now who knows what that means? Meeks immediately puts his hand up.


Carpe Diem. That's "seize the day."


Very good, Mr.-




Meeks. Another unusual name. Seize the day. Gather ye rosebuds while ye may. Why does the writer use these lines?


Because he's in a hurry.


No, ding!

Keating slams his hand down on an imaginary buzzer.


Thank you for playing anyway. Because we are food for worms lads. Because, believe it or not, each and every one of us in this room is one day going to stop breathing, turn cold, and die.

Keating turns towards the trophy cases, filled with trophies, footballs, and team pictures.


Now I would like you to step forward over here and peruse some of the faces from the past. You've walked past them many times. I don't think you've really looked at them.

The students slowly gather round the cases and Keating moves behind them.


They're not that different from you, are they? Same haircuts. Full of hormones, just like you. Invincible, just like you feel. The world is their oyster. They believe they're destined for great things, just like many of you. Their eyes are full of hope, just like you. Did they wait until it was too late to make from their lives even one iota of what they were capable? Because you see gentlmen, these boys are now fertilizing daffodils. But if you listen real close, you can hear them whisper their legacy to you. Go on, lean in.

The boys lean in and Keating hovers over Cameron's shoulder.


(whispering in a gruff voice)


Cameron looks over his shoulder with an aggravated expression on his face.


Hear it? (whispering again)

Carpe. Carpe Diem. Seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary.

The boys stare at the faces in the cabinet in silence.

Script courtesy of