June 5, 2011

So live that when thy summons… #PoetrySummer, Week 1

Thanatopsis is the last poem (I remember) having to memorize. We studied it during my junior year of high school, and actually, I only had to memorize the last stanza. I learned the end of Puck’s closing monologue in AP English the next year, but that’s not a poem now, is it? Eighteen years gives a brain a lot of time to rot. However…

A few days ago, I decided to do this poem memorization and recitation challenge launched by author Dan Wells on his blog. (He probably has a much better name for it.) If you want the details because (Yes!) you’d like to do it too, please follow the link. (I haven’t included them all here.)  Basically, we are memorizing one poem of our own choosing each week for the next twelve weeks and reciting said poem to at least one person each Sunday. The challenge started last Wednesday, which made for a rather short fist week, so we were advised to start small.

I just recited Wendell Berry’s What We Need Is Here (see below) for David and Eva. (Two whole people!) Per Dan’s suggestion and because sometimes I just feel like a wuss, I chose a very short poem, the last few lines of which I had already memorized a few months ago when I was looking for a mantra of sorts. Even though it’s short, I love it, and I’m pleased to know the whole thing by heart now. I wonder how long it will stay with me, considering my increasingly scattered and skimpy brain.

Geese appear high over us,
pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye,
clear. What we need is here.

This week, I’ll be working on Edna St. Vincent Millay’s  On Thought in Harness. (I’ll share the text next week.) I found it while flipping through an old copy of Wine From These Grapes I got at a Friends of the Library sale years ago (and which I’ve only cracked a few times). It is still a short-ish poem, but much longer than this week’s. So, I’m stretching.

Let me know if you want to do Dan’s challenge too. I’d love some company.


I’m in! Millay’s poems are beautiful for memorization (“The Hungry Heart” and “The Unexplorer” I still remember after many years). I think I might challenge myself to post some videos of the memorized poems on my blog.

Thanks for the inspiration!

by Bethany on June 6, 2011 at 2:02 pm. #

Great! I can’t wait to see your videos. :)

by wendy on June 7, 2011 at 1:30 pm. #