How it all Started
In August 2008, my wife watched Out of Africa one weekend I was out of town. Near the end of the movie, Karen walks into the men’s club bar and offers the toast: “Rose lipt maidens, lightfoot boys.” We’ve watched that movie a dozen times and wondered where those words were from, so she looked it up and discovered it was a reference to an A.E. Housman poem, With Rue My Heart is Laden. While researching this, she read something by someone who spent long hours of business travel memorizing poetry. When she told me, it hit like a ton of bricks: I could do the same thing. I’ll memorize poems while I commute each day. It will keep my mind active and exercised, plus fill it with sweet words and good thoughts. After a year I had memorized roughly 36 poems. I’m into my third year now (as of January, 2011, I’ve memorized about 55) and still consider this a valuable, treasured part of my day and literary living. On this blog, I’m posting tips and ideas I’ve discovered about memorizing poems, songs and prose, plus a list of links to all the poems I’ve committed to memory.
What to Memorize?
In choosing poems to memorize, I select some seasonally appropriate verse. I also balance light with serious. I want to memorize poems suited for certain moments, like a toast, or saying something nice about someone at a farewell event or birthday. A fitting, apropos poem heightens my awareness of a moment and marks it for future reference. Look through the list and you’ll see Robert Burns is my favorite poet and autumn, my favorite season.
Poems on The Life Literary
I am gradually posting the text of poems I’ve memorized. The texts of almost all the poems I’ve memorized are also easily available online. I’m not going to post all 50 some poems at the same time, so it will probably take several months to see when you click the Poems Memorized category (along the right-hand side of the blog home page) all the poems I’ve memorized.