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Posts Tagged ‘memorizing’

Recently, I had one of those can’t-put-my-finger-on-it moments, the kind where you think of a line of a song or (in this case) a snippet of poetry, and cannot remember where it came from. I was pretty sure this line – “Come forth, and bring with you a heart that watches and receives” – was from Wordsworth, and thanks to the magic of Google, I searched for it and had the whole poem in front of me in short order.

This made me think three things:

  1. Google is so convenient, and in a sense, it eliminates the need for those bulky anthologies I carted around in college.
  2. I don’t think I own any Wordsworth in hard copy (to my shame, because I really do like him).
  3. Why don’t we, as a culture, memorize poetry any more?

I know, I know – after graduating college, it seems a bit arcane to commit lines of poetry, or mathematical formulas, or anything else on flash cards, to memory – unless those things are part of your day job, in which case you probably don’t need said flash cards. We’re so used to having all the info we need (well, a lot more than we’ll ever need, really) at our fingertips. Even before the advent of the Internet, libraries largely replaced the need for people to carry all their knowledge in their brains.

But I rather like the idea of having a store of poetry tucked away in my mind, words to carry with me and pull out when I need them, even if Google is usually just a few clicks away. (This probably has its roots in the many Bible verses I had to memorize as a child – some of which, I’m happy to report, are still imprinted on my heart in adulthood.)

So I printed out the poem (and made plans to buy some Wordsworth in hard copy, stat), and have spent the past week memorizing it. And now (I hope) I’ve added it to the storehouse of words in my memory, to be called up and ruminated over when I need a lift or some encouragement. And I like the idea so much I’m going to try memorizing one poem a month, at least for now. Up next (called to mind by Sarah’s post the other day) is “Desiderata.”

Do you memorize poetry (or anything besides the million passwords required for life these days), or is it just me?

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