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Apple brilliantly waxes poetic in new iPad Air ad

An ad that launched during the NFL playoffs features poetry and humanity and words from "Dead Poet's Society." Instead of talking features, it asks "what is your verse?"

Dream on.
Apple/YouTube Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Why do you stay alive?

Is it in order to earn a crust, so that you might save some morsel of that crust and then, when you have few teeth left, put together lots of morsels to make one slice of bread?

Is it to gain power over others, so that you can feel big while rendering them small in your mind and in your presence?

If so, Apple thinks you're not human. The company wants you to know this: "Poetry, beauty, romance, love -- these are what we stay alive for."

In a new ad for its freshly-created Age of Enlightenment Party -- I'm sorry, I meant the iPad Air -- Apple wants you to feel that its gadget isn't a gadget. It's a tool to a dream.

"The powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse," intones Robin Williams. Well, it would be him, as some might know these words from "Dead Poet's Society." (Here's the original footage.)

Then he and Apple ask: "What will your verse be?"

Some will find this overwrought and pretentious for a gadget manufacturer. These would be the same sorts who would find "Here's To The Crazy Ones" patently insane.

For Apple to return to its core strengths -- humanity, art, and emotions -- is curiously refreshing.

Last year's neurotic, metallic rumbling about what matters being "the experience of a product" can now be placed into the chillier vaults of history.

You might choose to decide that this ad tells you nothing about the iPad Air. But it's hard to deny that it says a lot about what Apple thinks it stands for -- and what many believe it does stand for.

While Google has made considerable progress in mimicking and sometimes subsuming Apple's emotional credentials, an ad like this reaches for assumptive ground where most fear to tread.

It is, perhaps, an expression of confidence that Apple has decided to enter 2014 with not only a statement of intent but a re-statement of some feelings that some had thought lost.

Poetry, beauty, romance, and love in a gadget ad. There's a certain courage about that.