Sunday, August 27, 2017

Memorizing poetry

“Is it difficult to learn a poem by heart? Of course”: Molly Worthen, historian, writes about the value of memorizing poetry: “Memorize That Poem!” (The New York Times).

Or as Brisbane once said, “Learn that poem.”

What do I know by heart? Poems by Ted Berrigan, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Emily Dickinson, John Donne, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Philip Larkin, Lorine Niedecker, the Shake, William Carlos Williams, William Butler Yeats. All by osmosis. How about you?

comments: 4

misterbagman said...

A dear friend of mine shared this story on Facebook over the weekend, introducing it with these words:

"Memorizing poetry is like having a shiny jewel in your pocket that you can take out anytime and spread a little awe and beauty to those around you."

Her introduction is almost a poem itself.

Michael Leddy said...

Thanks for sharing that here.

misterbagman said...

Also, I have memorized very little poetry. Two poems, to be exact. Jabberwocky, for one, and Pushkin's "Pora, moj drug, pora!" for the other.

Pora, moj drug, pora! Pokoja serdtse procit.
Letyat za dniami dni i kazhdij chas unocit
Chastichku bytia, a my s toboj vdvoem
Predpolgaem zhit', i glyad' - kak raz - umrem.

N cvete schast'ya nyet, no est' pokoj i volya.
Davno zavidnaya mechtaetsya mne dolya.
Davno, ustalij rab, zamyslil ya pobeg
V obitel' dal'niuiu trudov i chistikh neg.

[Please pardon my clunky transliteration.]

Here's a real Russian reciting the poem, with the requisite sentimentality it seems to demand, being Pushkin and all.

Michael Leddy said...

That’s a real showpiece. For anyone who needs a translation (as I do), this one seems pretty accomplished. (Better than the rhyming ones I found.)