This won’t be a long post. Because, what exactly does one write about someone you never knew, but who made you laugh, think and cry more than anyone else in your life?
Robin Williams died today at the age of 63 from apparent self-asphyxiation. Excepting people I’ve known, the news of his death has probably saddened me more than any other that I can remember.
Dead Poet’s Society is the first movie of his that I can remember really making me think. It came out in 1989, when I was 12, and while I was already a reader at that age, it probably did more to inspire me to literary pursuits than any other single story, read, heard or viewed. (Which is why I don’t give much credence to people who say that movies and television ruin readers, or any other similarly inane arguments.)
Good Will Hunting still holds my personal record for the movie seen the most number of times in a theater.
I won’t go through all the movies of his I liked, there are just too many. But here’s what I’ll do.
On Facebook and Twitter, I gave my own little tribute, a picture of myself (the same as that above) standing on a desk with the hashtag #OCaptainMyCaptain. It’s the honor that the students give John Keating (played by Williams) when he is forced to leave their school in Dead Poets Society. I can’t think of a better way to symbolically send Robin off into the Great Whereafter. For now he’s part of the Society, and his poetry will live on with that of the greats.
I’d love it if some others joined in and shared this tribute with me. If you do, please be safe and only stand on a desk, table, chair or some other piece of furniture that you know is sturdy and will support you.
P.S. Here’s the Walt Whitman poem from where the phrase is taken:
O Captain! My Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.
O Captain! My Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills;
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding;
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head;
It is some dream that on the deck,
You’ve fallen cold and dead.
My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won;
Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!
But I, with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.