The Poetry Question

Discovering the Relevance of Words

QOTD- Quoth the Raven, From Memory


I used to know the whole thing.

When I was a freshman in high school our whole English class had to recite it, individually, from memory. Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven.

I still remember most of it, but I couldn’t hope to recite it. I remember lines and phrases but not in any particular order. Much the same way I remember life. All the building blocks are there, but I lack the blueprint.

I wish I knew more poetry by heart. In theory, I like the idea of being able to quote poetry on command, but in practice I can’t imagine doing so without sounding like a total ass. Maybe if I try it with a British accent? I don’t know.

You never really appreciate the things you were forced to do in school until later. At least I never did. It wasn’t until the poem was already becoming a hazy memory that it occurred to me how much I drew on those words for influence. Those blocks.

Have you ever memorized poems? Can you draw on poetry from memory, and do you?

About Doran Simmons

I'm a writer and a camper and a keeper of fish. I was trained as a flight instructor and work day jobs and write nonsense for public consumption (hopefully).

2 comments on “QOTD- Quoth the Raven, From Memory

  1. Christopher Margolin
    March 12, 2014

    I used to have a bank of memorized poems. Professor Walls made us do it, and I also just enjoyed the act of memorizing poems, and having them on hand to recite – helped with the ladies, or something. I did have a girlfriend in college who had hundreds of memorized poems. It was crazy. You could rattle off a poet, or a title, and she would spit them out. It was beyond impressive. Great party trick – for the right party, of course. I have a few that I keep in my head, but at this point, it’s very few. But if you give me a first line of a classic, I can probably tell you the name of the poet, and maybe the following line, or at least part of it.

  2. kiwiskan
    March 12, 2014

    Yes, but like you it’s just the blocks of words that come to mind. That’s not bad though – it inspires me to look up the poem again…

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This entry was posted on March 12, 2014 by in Question of the Day and tagged , , , , .

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