Memorized Poems

This Guardian blog post on committing poems to memory brought back (mixed) memories of my eighth-grade assignment (for a social studies class, not an English course, as it happened) to memorize Kipling’s “Gunga Din”. Rereading that poem now (eighth grade was a long time ago) I wonder how–or if–it is taught today. I can see it causing quite a stir in the more politically correct classrooms of our current times.

What poems have you memorized? Why?

6 thoughts on “Memorized Poems

  1. Michael A. Burstein says:

    I memorized a lot of the Lewis Carroll poems, such as “Jabberwocky” and “The Walrus and the Carpenter.” But that was mostly from reading them repeatedly, and not from any intent to memorize them.

  2. emilydixieson says:

    Thank you for this article… at the moment, I’m trying to memorize some of my own for readings. mmm. But, I’ve memorized many an Emily Dickenson, for an oral interp competition once and from rereading and out of affection.

  3. Anonymous says:

    My very first was the untitled poem in Poe’s “Fall of the House of Usher”, which I recited at Thanksgiving dinner when I was eight. I’ve tackled a number of poems since, including most of the longer poems in Tolkien, and a sampling of the stuff you learn in junior-high and high-school English class. It’s always a pleasure to learn a new one….


  4. Erika Dreifus says:

    Thanks for the responses! I really enjoyed learning about these experiences.

    I’ve certainly memorized *parts* of poems (and prose works) “out of affection,” by rereading them without the intent to commit them to memory, but I’m afraid never any single work in its entirety.

  5. harried mom says:

    I did a national education tour years ago for the group, Poetry Alive! and had to memorize over 200 poems. A fantastic experience. Ones that stuck with me: Jabberwocky, Daybreak in Alabama, most of Spoon River Anthology, Casey at the Bat, Shakespeare’s Sonnet 147, several by Nikki Giovanni and my favorite by e.e. cummings–don’t think it has a title, but the ending says it all:

    now the ears of my ears awake and now the eyes of my eyes are opened

  6. Erika Dreifus says:

    Oh, I loved the Spoon River Anthology! Thanks for the memory!

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