Monday, July 12, 2010

Learning by Heart

While I am unfamiliar with the work of this cartoonist, Lynda Barry, I do like what she says about the potential function of memorizing poetry and its subsequent availability in the subconscious.
(via Twitter PRSatran)
For a few years, I tended to learn the poems that my daughter was learning to recite by heart, but even that’s been a while.  I need to memorize some more.
I’ve decided on this as my first:
The Coming American
By Sam Walter Foss
    Bring me men to match my mountains;
    Bring me men to match my plains, --
    Men with empires in their purpose,
    And new eras in their brains.
    Bring me men to match my prairies,
    Men to match my inland seas,
    Men whose thought shall pave a highway
    Up to ampler destinies;
    Pioneers to clear Thought's marshlands,
    And to cleanse old Error's fen;
    Bring me men to match my mountains --
    Bring me men!

    Bring me men to match my forests,
    Strong to fight the storm and blast,
    Branching toward the skyey future,
    Rooted in the fertile past.
    Bring me men to match my valleys,
    Tolerant of sun and snow,
    Men within whose fruitful purpose
    Time's consummate blooms shall grow.
    Men to tame the tigerish instincts
    Of the lair and cave and den,
    Cleans the dragon slime of Nature --
    Bring me men!
    Bring me men to match my rivers,
    Continent cleavers, flowing free,
    Drawn by the eternal madness
    To be mingled with the sea;
    Men of oceanic impulse,
    Men whose moral currents sweep
    Toward the wide-enfolding ocean
    Of an undiscovered deep;
    Men who feel the strong pulsation
    Of the Central Sea, and then
    Time their currents to its earth throb --
    Bring me men!

What do you think?  When is the last time you memorized a poem?  Is it about time to do it again?


Jenn Casey said...

That's interesting you posted this now. Morgan and I were just talking about this, and memorizing together, some old nursery rhymes ("Mary, Mary quite contrary" and "Humpty Dumpty").

The last poem I really tried to memorize...hmmmmm...I think it was Sonnet 43 "How do I love thee?" by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and that was years ago. I love having poems and other swaths of literature waiting around in my head. I like this poem you put up, so I might do that next. Maybe we can make a family project out of it!

The best poem I ever memorized (and it lives on in my brains), hands down: "Kublai Khan" by Coleridge. :o)

Lynne said...

Ooh. That's a good idea (family project). I think we'll do that too. We have plenty of books of poetry to choose from. I'm going to give them each a book and a month. I'll report back on what was recited and how everyone did.

Kendall J said...

The last poem I memorized was at OCON last week for my Poetry class. Lisa VanDamme actually has that as her last step in an 8 step process (developed by Peikoff) for getting more enjoyment out of poetry. Guess which one... :)

K -

Lynne said...

I know! I know! But isn't that cheating since you'd probably already memorized most of it?

Between the recommendations from you and Amy, you can bet I'll be getting the class on CD when it comes out.

Cheryl said...

Whose woods these are I think I know, his house is in the village though. .

I could go on. . . fifth grade, annoyed that I had to do it but still remember Robert Frost. A wonderful exercise.

Lynne said...

I just memorized that in chorus this year as a mash-up with The Road Not Taken. Both parts were way out of my range and that has made all the difference.