What was the original "Dead Poets Society" dedicated to?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The boys end up "seizing the day" in their investigations about Mr. Keating.  They find out that he was a student at Welton and that he was a member of this club.  Mr. Keating uses the explanation of the club to further his ideas of "carpe diem" and living for the moment.  The original purpose of the "Dead Poets Society" exists in the name.  The society was dedicated to a revelry for poetry, written by poets who had passed, but whose work was still alive in the minds of young students.  The club met and discussed poetry as a source of life, a lauding of art and the beauty that poetry can bring to life.  This literary society was dedicated to the poets that made life come alive and the aficionados in the present who continued to do their part to sustain the life of the poets' work.  In this, the original society was dedicated to the preservation and sustenance of poetry.  When Mr. Keating explains the purpose of the club to the boys, it makes them want to resurrect the society. They do this in a trek to a cave where they read poetry, representing the essence of Keating's teaching philosophy and intent.