Cover Photo: O Captain! My Captain! (Original Alternate Ending/Dead Poets Society/Dir.Peter Weir/1989/Touchstone Pictures) by Chris Okum

O Captain! My Captain! (Original Alternate Ending/Dead Poets Society/Dir.Peter Weir/1989/Touchstone Pictures)

Thank you, boys. Thank you. I appreciate your show of solidarity. But you're a little late. I've already been fired. So your gesture, while appreciated, is futile. And I think you all know that. So excuse me if I'm not treating this moment as confirmation of the indomitable human spirit. You're all a bunch of cowards. All of you. You who are sitting in your seats and you who are standing on your desks. So you stood on your desks? So what? You know you're not going to get punished for doing that. They can't punish you, not now. They fired me, it's over, if I needed anyone to stand on desks for me it was last week. That's when you boys should have been standing on your desks. That's when you should have done something. Some kind of protest. Maybe shut down the school. Barricade yourself in a classroom. Come up with a list of demands. Just for a couple of days? In my honor? Because I obviously meant so much to you. I changed your lives. You'll never forget Mr. Keating. That's me. Who's being blamed for something he had nothing to do with. I mean, Jesus Christ, Neil, really, suicide? That was his answer? That's not the answer I gave him. I never gave him any answers. The conclusions he came to were ones he came to on his own. If I had given him an answer, you know what it would have been? I would have said stop being such a drama queen. Because what he did is not commensurate with what was done to him. None of you seem to understand that what Neil did was make you feel bad for his parents, his father especially. I mean, yeah, the old man is a world class prick, and yeah, sure, maybe he's a little controlling and maybe he never would have accepted Neil for who Neil really was, but, come on, a bullet to the head? While sitting at his father's desk? That's not poetry. That's not what poems are about. That's bad theater, boys. So be honest with me, did you even read any of the poems? Outside of class? Or did you just get together to smoke cigarettes and drink red wine? All you had to do was stand up for me. But why would you? Look at you. A bunch of craven little turds. Somebody shoves a piece of paper in your face and you sign it without even asking any questions? That's what kind of brave soldiers you are? Hands up! Don't shoot! And now you're standing on your desks and calling out to me. To let me know what? That you're sorry? Are you trying to tell me you're sorry, boys, is that what this is all about? I don't think so. This is just more melodrama. You're just mythologizing your youth and you shouldn't, because it's not that great. And it's not the stuff of poetry. Your conception of poetry is all wrong. You've learned nothing from me. Except that it's okay to off yourself when your daddy yells at you and that at the first sign of trouble turn your back on a friend. That's great. I don't remember teaching you those things, but if you say I did then I guess I did. In that case I really am an awful teacher and I deserve to be fired. Now do what the man says. Get down from there. Get off.