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Author Topic: Memorizing poetry
ketchupqueen
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I memorize when something seems important or special enough to memorize, or sometimes I memorize without trying. But because of the way my memory works I generally memorize songs much more easily than anything else (although when I'm in, say, a play, I tend to memorize my lines, and usually everyone else's, with little to no effort.)

I do like the fact that I move in several circles where it is not uncommon to quote songs, poems, scripture, or great words in conversation.

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King of Men
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I memorise quite a bit if something appeals to me. Every so often I recite Horatio on the Bridge to myself, just because it's cool that I can.
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Shawshank
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I like to quote the beginning of the prologue to the Canterbury Tales in Middle English for the same reason KoM. Had to memorize it for high school English.

Whan thate aprille (I think is how you spell it)

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Elmer's Glue
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I've never done it on purpose, but I know several poems by heart.
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Carrie
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I've got various chunks of the Iliad memorized...
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mackillian
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We were required to memorize certain poems in one of my college courses years ago. I imagine the professor still makes it a requirement.
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Launchywiggin
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Memorizing poetry is something I've never been able to do. Even with song lyrics, I usually learn them wrong and never listen to the lyrics anyway. It's all about the music for me.
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steven
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I had to memorize the first several stanzas of the Canterbury prologue as well.

[ December 23, 2007, 12:51 PM: Message edited by: steven ]

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Belle
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I imagine most English majors like myself and mack have had courses that require it. I like to memorize poetry, but I can't say as I'm very good at it.

I'm better at lines from Shakespearean plays and with great quotes from books I love.

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steven
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I can quote Shakespeare as a joke, but...I didn't think it was exactly accepted behavior to quote it seriously.
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Shawshank
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You just need cooler friends steven [Smile] I can quote a poem written by Rider Strong that was used in an episode of Boy Meets World. And I quote three Bradley Hathaway poems (he's this indie guy one of my friends showed me- an emo-mocking emo-Christian poet, it's quite funny).

That's about it.

Now I feel sad- I wish I could quote lots of poetry.

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DeathofBees
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I have lots of poetry, songs, lines from movies memorized, but mostly by accident just from frequent hearing. I like memorizing the Bible. Romans 10:17 says, "Faith comes by hearing..." and it's very true that the parts I've heard many times and have subsequently committed to memory are those that come to mind when my faith needs a boost.

Now that I'm a mom of book-lovers, I have lots and lots of children's literature memorized, including some really great poetry. I'm an aural learner, so I can more easily memorize something I've heard than something I've just read silently. I like to read dialogue from books aloud, even to myself. Do any of you do that, too?

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steven
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"You just need cooler friends steven."

Where in this country could you find several people all living very closely who could/do hang out regularly, who would accept me inserting (in all seriousness) "to sleep, perchance to dream" into a conversation on life after death? I'm serious, where?

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Shawshank
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I was kidding steven. Hence the: [Smile]
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steven
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Indeed. [Smile]
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Tatiana
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I tend to memorize poems I like a lot, just because I read them frequently and they stick in my mind. Poetry is more like music than it is like words to my mind. Poems get stuck in my head the way songs do, and I tend to naturally memorize them. I know a lot of A.E.Housman, some Shakespeare, and a smattering of poems I like by other poets. It wasn't something I set out to do, it just happened.

Tip: to stay awake when you're driving long ways, recite every Shakespeare sonnet you know in a Monty Python voice. [Big Grin] It works great! One of Nevil Shute's bomber pilots said the reason the British won the war is they had more poetry for bomber pilots to recite to stay awake on the flights home. The poor German pilots would run out halfway back and crash. [Smile]

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TomDavidson
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It's not that uncommon. Now, I'm not sure how large the intersection would be between those people and people who'd enjoy conversations about the consistency of their poop.
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steven
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"I'm not sure how large the intersection would be between those people and people who'd enjoy conversations about the consistency of their poop."

In person, I take social cues like body language, etc., and use those to modify my choice of subject.

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Hank
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I had a professor who said that no one should ever memorize any line from literature on purpose.
He said that if it's truly great, you will be drawn to it, and it will run through your mind until you don't have to memorize it, because it is a part of you.
I've certainly memorized things on purpose, but I really like that sentiment.

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steven
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Hmmm...That's a very Zen/Tao approach, isn't it?
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Belle
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Perhaps I hang out with too many English majors, but I find quoting Shakespeare (and Tolkien) is appropriate in conversation fairly often.

Then again, I'm a geek, and tend to hang out with them. Also, I grew up with a Mom who was also a geeky English major and quoted Shakespeare at me since I was old enough to talk, so I guess it comes naturally.

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Nighthawk
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I have memorized the poem about reincarnation recited by George C. Scott in Patton.

It's rumored Scott wrote it, not Patton.

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Liz B
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I've memorized lots of poems. Having them in my head enriches my life. (Yeah, I really think that. [Smile] )

Most recently, I recited Wordsworth in my head to try to calm myself down when having my blood pressure taken during and shortly after a difficult pregnancy. ("The World Is Too Much With Us" and "Nuns Fret Not," for those who are curious.) It helped a bit with the anxiety, but the medication has helped a lot more. [Smile]

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Shawshank
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Actually- a lot of my friends would recognize if I started quoting literature. I can do that a lot with OSC's stuff.

But if I quoted a little Shakespeare or some other- they probably would recognize it.

But I'm a geeknerd and hang out with a lot of other geeknerds.

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Danzig
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I used to know Jabberwocky, but that was in the sixth grade and I have forgotten most of it.

I don't know many Shakespeare quotes/references, and not all my friends would get the ones I do know, but I wouldn't hesitate to make that or any other literary reference if it pertained to the conversation.

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steven
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Jabberwocky: something about "mimsy" and "borogroves", or something. [ROFL]

Quoting Tolkien? Only the brain-dead can't do that, in my book. [ROFL]

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Tatiana
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Jabberwocky and the Hunting of the Snark, of course! [Smile]
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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by Tatiana:
Jabberwocky and the Hunting of the Snark, of course! [Smile]

*high five*

When I heard the Cheshire cat quote the first stanza of Jabberwocky in Disney's Alice in Wonderland, I took it upon myself to memorize the entire poem.

It's still the only poem I can recite from memory. I greatly appreciate poetry, but I typically do not memorize lines from it.

There used to be a website whose address was the entire first stanza of jabberwocky + .com

It's gone now unfortunately, don't bother trying to access it. [Frown]

edit: Also your idea of quoting The Bard in a Monty Python voice is very similar to how I read through Isaiah, and Jeremiah when I study the Old Testament. I have a Shakesperean actor saying the lines dramatically in my head while I read. Now I can understand the books enough that the text is exciting on it's own, but it worked perfectly my first few times through.

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Starsnuffer
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Haha.. yeah I memorized Jabberwocky the first time I read it, because I thought it was awesome.
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Mike
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I've been toying with memorizing Kubla Khan, but I haven't gotten past the first sentence. And I might have known the entirety of Jabberwocky at one point, but the first stanza is the only one that's stuck.

Oh, and Tolkien fo' sho'. But I always hear it in the great man's own voice with his particular cadences. Makes it much easier to memorize.

The shadows where the mewlips dwell
Are dark and wet as ink,
And slow and softly rings their bell,
As in the slime you sink.

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Icarus
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quote:
Originally posted by Belle:
I imagine most English majors like myself and mack have had courses that require it. I like to memorize poetry, but I can't say as I'm very good at it.

I don't think it was required in any course I took from junior high on.

quote:
Originally posted by steven:
"You just need cooler friends steven."

Where in this country could you find several people all living very closely who could/do hang out regularly, who would accept me inserting (in all seriousness) "to sleep, perchance to dream" into a conversation on life after death? I'm serious, where?

Any halfway decent university. I've lost count of the number of times I or somebody else has inserted, "Alas, poor Yorick. I knew him well," into a conversation.
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rivka
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Too bad that's a misquote. [Wink]
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Shawshank
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Or the cool people at just any university. I'm a geeknerd you see (surely not a nerdgeek) and I somehow meet other geeks and we tend to toss allusions back and forth.
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Icarus
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quote:
Originally posted by rivka:
Too bad that's a misquote. [Wink]

Hardly surprising. I have alluded to my inability to memorize before. [Smile] But do I know real-life people who find it funny to make or catch such allusions? Definitely.
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Icarus
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Speaking of misinformation, the Google ad I'm getting seems to reference the canard that we only use ten percent of our brains.
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plaid
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Jabberwocky! That's one of the few things I've memorized since high school, since it is so fun. And I learned the French and German translations, too, as they're also fun and it's a fun thing to recite at parties -- link

quote:
Il brilgue: les tves lubricilleux
Se gyrent en vrillant dans le guave,
Enmms sont les gougebosqueux,
Et le mmerade horsgrave.

and

quote:
Es brillig war. Die schlichte Toven
Wirrten und wimmelten in Waben;
Und aller-mmsige Burggoven
Die mohmen Rth' ausgraben

[Smile]
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rivka
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Ic, it's also one of the most popular misquotes. Probably on the top ten list, along with "Play it again, Sam!"
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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by rivka:
Ic, it's also one of the most popular misquotes. Probably on the top ten list, along with "Play it again, Sam!"

Or Cagney's "You Dooty Rat!"
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Carrie
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quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
quote:
Originally posted by rivka:
Ic, it's also one of the most popular misquotes. Probably on the top ten list, along with "Play it again, Sam!"

Or Cagney's "You Dooty Rat!"
Or "Luke, I am your father."
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Icarus
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um, he does say those five words, in precisely that order.
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Carrie
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Nope. It's "No, I am your father."

ETA: link

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Icarus
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Huh. I'll be damned.

Apparently, though, it's in the script (meaningless, I know, since that does not reflect what was said on set) and it was delivered that way in the radio play.

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Sterling
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I have "To be or not to be" and "Now is the winter of our discontent" by heart. Also a good stretch of Poe's "The Raven" that I got down for a Romance Lit class in high school. In that same class I picked up "My love is like a red red rose" by osmosis, and was somewhat disgusted that some of the people who were actually doing it for the same assignment as I was memorizing "The Raven" couldn't recite when the time came.

These days I'm more likely to memorize song lyrics than poetry, simply because I'm more likely to be exposed to them. I do enjoy it, though.

Oh, and I have a good chunk of Shel Silverstein's one-act-rhyming-verse play "The Devil and Billy Markham" from when I directed it in College. Profane, vulgar, and very, very funny- I recommend it.

("You get one roll- and you bet your soul- and if you roll 13, you win...")

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Tante Shvester
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quote:
Originally posted by plaid:
Jabberwocky! That's one of the few things I've memorized since high school, since it is so fun. And I learned the French and German translations, too, as they're also fun and it's a fun thing to recite at parties -- link

quote:
Il brilgue: les tves lubricilleux
Se gyrent en vrillant dans le guave,
Enmms sont les gougebosqueux,
Et le mmerade horsgrave.

and

quote:
Es brillig war. Die schlichte Toven
Wirrten und wimmelten in Waben;
Und aller-mmsige Burggoven
Die mohmen Rth' ausgraben

[Smile]

Brillig! [Hat]
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Belle
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I'm surprised more people haven't had to recite poetry in college. One of my favorite professors teaches lyric and shorter forms of poetry, I didn't have that class but I did have her for American poetry. We had to recite a ballad we'd memorized. I did "Because I could not stop for death"

Ballads are easy, though - you just have to remember you can sing them to "The Yellow Rose of Texas".

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ElJay
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I've memorized quite a bit of poetry. That's how dkw and I used to entertain ourselves on long car trips when we were kids.
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mackillian
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...he kindly stopped for me
the carriage held but just ourselves
and Immortality.

quote:
you just have to remember you can sing them to "The Yellow Rose of Texas".
Of course, you have to know "The Yellow Rose of Texas" first. [Wink]
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Belle
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You don't know the tune to "Yellow rose of Texas", Mack?

Be thankful. If you do, then you will sing every ballad to it. [Wink]

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Philosofickle
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I love to memorize poetry. It helps me keep my memory sharp which is a very good thing because I'm in alot of plays.

Jabberwocky
The Highway Man
The Lady of Shallot
Anything by Edgar A. Guest,
Edgar Allen Poe
Tolkien
Brian Jaques (Alot of the poems from the redwall books.)
And other random poems that strike me as funny or moving.

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Liz B
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quote:
I did "Because I could not stop for death"

Ballads are easy, though - you just have to remember you can sing them to "The Yellow Rose of Texas".

Yes, Emily Dickinson sounds a lot less serious when you're singing "Tell All the Truth But Tell It Slant" (etc.) to the tune of "Oh Susannah" or the theme from Gilligan's Island. [Smile]
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