Wednesday, October 24, 2012

On Memorization




One of the blogs I read has been offering weekly Fall Challenges to its readers, challenges that are meant to be inspiring and reinvigorating as we enter a new, quieter and more introspective season. This week's challenge was to memorize a poem

I've done a lot of memorizing in my life but hardly any of this kind. As a classical pianist I've memorized hundreds and hundreds of thousands of notes, have taught my hands and fingers to play countless phrases and melodies and harmonies with no help from the written page of music. It's become so natural for me to memorize in this way.

But to be able to recite a poem from memory? That's a more difficult and foreign kind of memorization for me, and I thought it would be a perfect challenge to take on. 

I chose this poem by Emily Dickinson, "I Never Saw a Moor," a simple and beautiful ode to faith, to believing without seeing. My dad was the one who introduced me to it. As a confirmation gift my parents gave me an icon of John the Baptist (which was hand-painted by a monk in an Orthodox monastery in Bulgaria!), and they inscribed a note along with this poem on the back. I've read it often, and I realized how beautiful it would be to have it forever in my mind and on the tip of my tongue. So I've memorized these few lines and have internalized the unbending faith that is in them. 

I'd really love to do more memorization of this kind. Shakespeare's Sonnet 116 is a favorite of mine, and I also love the poet Rumi, whose poetry I was introduced to in a wonderful college class I took. This Fall Challenge (or more accurately, all of my chatter this week about poetry) also prompted my husband to re-read Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven," a very long and haunting poem that my husband had memorized when he was a teenager because he loved it so much (and I didn't know this about him until this week--another good outcome of the Fall Challenge!). 

Do you have a favorite poem or poet? Do you have any poems by memory?



9 comments:

  1. That's so encouraging! Poetry is something I have never really gotten into before, but that Sonnet was so beautiful, maybe I need to spend some more time reading such things. Your own poem you chose is also very refreshing to read. Have fun this week!

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    1. I hope you do Leah, let me know how it turns out!

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  2. You know, I have tons of songs stuck in my head, maybe I should try to memorize a few poems too.

    My favorite poet is Nikki Giovanni.

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  3. love this challenge. I love memorizing poems and scripture because I can recite them in my mind during stressful situations. It calms me down so much. Love the poem you chose!

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  4. For some reason, when I was a pre-teen, I chose to memorize Edward Lear's "The Dong With a Luminous Nose." When I would recite it to our girls when they were babies, it seemed to calm them down. Strange, but I love Lear's nonsense poetry!

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  5. I do have a favorite poem. It's really long (don't even think about memorizing it unless your name is Rain Man). And it's heartbreakingly sad. But if you love nature, and the family, and have ever done things you regret (me, me, and me), read through "Michael" by William Wordsworth.
    http://www.readbookonline.net/readOnLine/3286/

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    1. This sounds like a wonderful recommendation.

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  6. This is such an awesome goal. I love it (and I love your blog, by the way). I think the only poems that I might have memorized still are Shel Silverstein from when I was little.

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