Carpe Diem Essay, Research Paper
The phrase carpe diem , Latin for seize the day , asserts that if one does not live life to the fullest, one does not live life at all. Applications of this adage are widespread among numerous literary works. A few of the many examples include the poetry of Emily Dickinson, the motion picture Dead Poet s Society , and Walt Whitman s Song of Myself.
The words carpe diem are designed to move people into considering not death itself, but considering the lives people live before death. This phrase brings not about the fear of death, but the frightening prospect of never following their dreams in life. In the Dead Poet s Society , expectations are premeditated resentments. These expectations impede the growth of the spirit of a person, their passions, vitality, and lust for life. Specifically, they are imposed by the often too-demanding parents of the students who attend a strict preparatory school in the movie. It is no wonder why Neil, a victim of these great expectations, takes his own life. Ironically, Neil killed himself because he, like many others who feel restricted, wanted to live. In addition, the creed of the Dead Poet s Society was to live life to the fullest, and when Neil realized that he could not do that, he felt no desire to continue living. There is a realization in the movie that it was better to die after living, then to die after a long life of unhappiness. There is a certain dignity to that, which is the embodiment of Carpe Diem.
While the phrase carpe diem is applied to certain individuals on a microcosmic level, Walt Whitman envisions a much grander scale. He celebrates his life as one might appreciate the fine touch of one intrinsic violin at a symphony: a small part that collaborates with other elements to produce an integral totality. Whitman sees himself as the miniscule constituent of the entire universe. The universe can not be complete without him because he comes from the universe. Whitman directly states, in Song of Myself 1, that every atom of my blood, formed from this soil, this air (l 6), which is entirely true. At the moment of the big bang the whole universe erupted from a microscopic nugget whose size makes a grain of sand look colossal. From this single event, life was born. Whitman must have truly grasped how rare and precious this was. To know that the very particles which made up his body, the grass, the oceans, and the stars were, 15 billion years ago, forming time and space must have certainly given him reason to seize the day.
Yet Emily Dickinson, while complying with the same theme, had yet another manner of expressing carpe diem . Her intricate poems At Length and The Wife express the simple stories of people who seem to die before they live. At Length is an observation of a person who is dying which impels the observer that while this person is busy dying, they themselves had not lived. The Wife explores the sometimes dangerous constraints of marriage, much like the entrapment of the students in the Dead Poet s Society . While the wife takes on her role of woman and of wife (l 4), she eradicates the other things which give her pleasure in life. The message here is to find a critical balance in life in order to live in harmony. Since Dickinson lived her life as a recluse, perhaps she herself was searching for that consistency in life. Maybe her passion, unable to be expressed towards others, was fiercely directed at her poetry in order to achieve that yin and yang balance. Whether this is true or false can not be stated for certain, yet the message Carpe Diem just happens to be exhibited in her poetry.
People too often lose themselves in the past and hide from the future, all the while impatiently waiting for it to arrive, forgetting that in the eyes of the universe they are already there. It is a very human tendency to put off living in the moment and wait for better days in which to start living one s life. Too often it is the fear of the future that keeps one from seizing the day, and from living fully one s hopes and dreams. Carpe diem , to seize the day, is to breathe in the essence of one s spirit, and be filled with the love, peace, and knowing of oneself.