Thursday, October 20, 2011

Life List: Memorize & Internalize 10 Poems

Probably you already know this, but I'm a poet.* And, one thing that poets seem to have do fairly often is memorize poems.  I love this.  I've always liked memorizing poems.  As it turns out, I'm not terribly good at it.  Mostly, I sort of remember them enough to get through my recitation.  But, for all that I don't really remember any of the poems I've memorized, I do feel like I've internalized them, and that's more important than being able to spout them off at parties, I think.** So, I've decided to devote the next few Life List posts to the poems I've memorized, and why I love them.


Untitled Poem from The Baldwin Primer (May Kirk Scripture)

I love the name of Washington,
         I love my country, too,
I love the flag, the dear old flag,
         of red, white, and blue.

I memorized this poem sometime in second grade, after getting my Samantha doll.  I think one of the books references the fact that Samantha had to memorize the poem, so of course I did, too.  Then, I went around telling literally anyone who would listen to me recite it.  I had to go back and find a copy of the primer to remember the poem, and I'd actually remembered it as being in some way related to religion (hmm, patriotism and religion? melded together in my second grade mind? you don't say...).

But, I do remember memorizing it, reading it out of a doll-sized book over and over again until the words stayed firmly in my mind.  The topic was very near to my heart at the time, and I'm glad that the first poem I memorized was by a woman.  Until I looked the piece up again, I'd been upset that I'd never memorized a poem by a woman, and it was nice to find out that this wasn't true.  The short, rhyming nature of the poem makes it a perfect piece to memorize. It's pieces like this (and like Dr. Seuss) that gave me a sense of rhythm, and while the poem may have left my memory, its heavy iambs have been sitting in the back of my brain for almost twenty years.

*Some people might feel strange about self-identifying as a poet. Not me!
** Although, it is a fun party trick! You should try it one day. 

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