We try it!

We Try It: Memorizing Poetry

What? What’s that you say? You say today is poetry day? Calooh, Calay! Let’s memorize some poems, I say!

I have snippets of verse I’ve had to memorize in my life, two of which I referenced in that intro. I also have snippets of “A Raisin in the Sun” and “The Gingham Dog and the Calico Cat” floating around in my brain. As a writer, I devour words because they make my craft. Unfortunately, I don’t always remember the words.

So I’ve decided to try my hand at memorizing a poem a week, and I want you, dear readers, to join in the challenge!

How it works: I post a poem. I memorize it, you memorize it, and we recite it at the end of the week to ourselves, our cat, or whomever wants to listen. Then we memorize a new one!

What counts? Any poem! I’d like to be sure women and other minorities are well represented, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy some Ogden Nash or Shakespeare!

That’s it? Yup! It’s pretty simple. This is about putting fun language in our heads to make us better writers. You can suggest poems in the comments. I’ll pick any that seem manageable (meaning, let’s not do “Song of Myself.”)

Ready? Okay! Let’s get to memorizing!

“Unfortunate Coincidence” by Dorothy Parker

By the time you swear you’re his,
Shivering and sighing,
And he vows his passion is
Infinite, undying –
Lady, make a note of this:
One of you is lying.

By [E] Sally Lawton

My food groups are cheese, bacon, and hot tea. I like studying cities and playing with my cat, Buffy.

9 replies on “We Try It: Memorizing Poetry”

Also Michael Rosen (who is a great poet, speaker, children’s literacy advocate and all-round nice human being)

The rain has died
My shoes have died
The sun has died
My coat has died
The earth has died

One day
The rain will flower
My shoes will laugh
The sun will sing
My coat will fly
The earth will dance
One day.

I memorised a lot of poems for drama exams, but my favourites are still John Donne:

Busy old fool, unruly Sun,
Why dost thou thus,
Through windows, and through curtains, call on us ?
Must to thy motions lovers’ seasons run ?
Saucy pedantic wretch, go chide
Late school-boys and sour prentices,
Go tell court-huntsmen that the king will ride,
Call country ants to harvest offices ;
Love, all alike, no season knows nor clime,
Nor hours, days, months, which are the rags of time.

And I’m a sucker for The Anniversary

All Kings, and all their favourites,
All glory of honours, beauties, wits,
The sun itself, which makes times, as they pass,
Is elder by a year now than it was
When thou and I first one another saw:
All other things to their destruction draw,
Only our love hath no decay;
This no tomorrow hath, nor yesterday,
Running it never runs from us away,
But truly keeps his first, last, everlasting day.

Two graves must hide thine and my corse;
If one might, death were no divorce.
Alas, as well as other Princes, we
(Who Prince enough in one another be)
Must leave at last in death these eyes and ears,
Oft fed with true oaths, and with sweet salt tears;
But souls where nothing dwells but love
(All other thoughts being inmates) then shall prove
This, or a love increasèd there above,
When bodies to their graves, souls from their graves remove.

And then we shall be throughly blessed;
But we no more than all the rest.
Here upon earth we’re Kings, and none but we
Can be such Kings, nor of such subjects be;
Who is so safe as we? where none can do
Treason to us, except one of us two.
True and false fears let us refrain,
Let us love nobly, and live, and add again
Years and years unto years, till we attain
To write threescore: this is the second of our reign.

This seems fun. I have an awful lot of Ogden Nash rolling about in my head.

A primal termite knocked on wood
Tasted it and found it good,
And that is why your cousin May
Fell through the parlor floor today.

Children aren’t happy with nothing to ignore,
And that’s what parents were invented for.

And so on…

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