|Memorizing poems, speeches, and soliloquies ...
||[Dec. 18th, 2013|01:24 pm]
Memorization of texts is simultaneously the most useless thing I learned in school, and the one that I most frequently call upon in my adult life. What do I gain by knowing that "The quality of mercy is not strained/It droppeth like the gentle rain in heaven unto the place beneath -- it is twice blessed; it blesseth him that gives and him that receives. It befits the sceptred monarch better than his crown...."|
Nothing -- yet I still recite it whenever it's appropriate. Not ALL my teachers assigned things for memorization, but a few of them did -- and I still have at least bits of most of those things.
Whose woods these are, I think I know.
His house is in the village, though.
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near.
Something something something that rhymes with "shake"
This darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake
Something goes here that rhymes with "deep"
Something about wind, maybe, and then "downy flake".
The woods are lovely, dark and deep
But I have promises to keep
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
Did you learn that to the tune of Hernando's Hideaway ?
Naw; I barely know Hernando's Hideaway, and don't think I'd even HEARD it at the time, so it wouldn't have helped. In general, I'm in favor of setting things to tunes for memorization, but "knowing the tune" is a prerequisite for making that work.
"The only answer is the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake."
That's from memory. It's actually,
"The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake."
I thought there was a contraction in there. Memory is particular and peculiar. But I know that the reson I got the second line right is that I once took a class where we examined those adjectives very closely.
For my french class in high school, I had to memorize a couple of poems. At the time, I thought it was useless, but I cannot say the number of times I have stopped and proclaimed:
Il pleure dans mon coeur
Comme il pleut sur la ville.
(It cries in my heart, like it rains on the city). Very useful whenever feeling dramatic, sad, or simply rainy. (I think literally the word is 'rain' in both cases, but it can mean 'cry' or 'rain', depending upon context?)
are not the same word, despite their obvious thematic as well as phonemic similarity. :-)Pleurer
= to cry. Il pleure. Ils pleurent.Pleuvoir
= to rain. Il pleut. Ils pleuvent.**Wiktionary says that this conjugation, 3rd person plural, is used only figuratively. :-)
Ah, thank you. I was confused by the translation I found on the 'net, which translated it as 'rain' in both cases, which I knew was incorrect.
BTW, any spelling mistakes are also due to that web page, which I now trust even less than before. :-)
What's odd is that, even more than this original version, I remember this riff on it from Doonesbury, ages ago:
I had to learn E A Poe's The Raven, in College in 1964. I can still quote the first 3 stanzas.
What I fell in love with, and what turned me around the corner to becoming a Rhymist, was the meter, sound, and visualization of the lines (I break them down to the way I read them aloud, pausing at the end, of the shortened lines):
And the silken sad uncertain
rustling of each purple curtain
filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now,
to still the beating of my heart,
I stood repeating
Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door--
The sound of those syllables, heard aloud, did (and still does) something for me. I still read aloud to let my ear hear what my brain writes, when I scribble rhyme.
Though I've belted you and flayed you,
By the living God that made you,
You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din
That's all I remember of the text, although I remember the gist.