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JOHN KEATING
This is a battle, a war, and the casualties could be your hearts and souls.
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JOHN KEATING
Mr. Pitts, would you open your hymnal to page 542 and read the first stanza of the poem you find there.
PITTS
[reading the poem title] "To the Virgins To Make Much of Time"?
JOHN KEATING
Yes, that's the one. Somewhat appropriate, isn't it?
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JOHN KEATING
Now, don't just walk off the edge like lemmings! Look around you!
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JOHN KEATING
[the class hesitates to rip out the introduction page] It's not the Bible, you're not gonna go to Hell for this.
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JOHN KEATING
We're not laughing at you; we're laughing near you.
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JOHN KEATING
We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, "O me! O life!... of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless... of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?" Answer: that you are here; that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?
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JOHN KEATING
When you read, don't just consider what the author thinks, consider what you think.
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JOHN KEATING
I was the intellectual equivalent of a 98-pound weakling! I would go to the beach and people would kick copies of Byron in my face!
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JOHN KEATING
Excrement! That's what I think of Mr. J. Evans Pritchard! We're not laying pipe! We're talking about poetry. How can you describe poetry like American Bandstand? "I like Byron, I give him a 42 but I can't dance to it!"
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JOHN KEATING
Boys, you must strive to find your own voice. Because the longer you wait to begin, the less likely you are to find it at all. Thoreau said, "Most men lead lives of quiet desperation." Don't be resigned to that. Break out!