Today is Veteran’s Day and there are many postings about it. Vanilla referenced the art installation at the Tower of London – thousands of ceramic poppies – one for each fallen British Commonwealth soldier of WWI. Of course that led my mind to In Flanders Field by John McCrae.
We had to memorize that poem in school. In fact throughout the lower grades we had to memorize a poem a week and each week several students were required to recite it in class. It was a teaching tool on several levels – train the brain, literature, public speaking, and in the case of “In Flanders Field”, history. All of that rolled into memorizing and reciting a poem.
Of course that is no longer done – waste of time. Have to teach to the test and then test. No time for education. (Okay, do NOT get me started, my head will explode. Some states have so many required tests that 60-80 out of 180 school days are used for testing. Ow, ow, ow – my head!)
My way of thinking is such that everything is a reference to something else – that something else being a bit of flotsam and jetsam that crossed my path. The problem is often I can’t remember the original source. A line from a poem haunted me for years. Could not remember the exact poem. I swore it had to be Wilfred Owens, Rupert Booke or Sigfried Sassoon. I could have sworn it was a war poem. I spent decades – DECADES – trying to track that poem. Part of the problem was my mis-remembering the line. I had one extra word in it. I googled my little fingers off – nothing. I finally came up with a search term that elicited the answer – William Blake. William Blake? Yup, a poem called “London”.
This morning I once again tried to recall the name of that poem. I remembered it was Blake – and I remembered I first read it in my Norton Anthology Vol. II – thankfully that old college textbook is still on my shelf. Easy to find when you know what you are looking for.
Sometimes I recite poetry in my head as I do mundane tasks – because I like poetry, because I can, because it is soothing, because it reminds me of something or other that pleased me then. Because it is probably a good thing to do to keep the little grey cells functioning.
Song lyrics are poetry – I know a gabillion of those. I suppose if young people today memorize song lyrics then that is somewhat analogous to memorizing poetry – tho I really don’t think today’s lyricists compare with even – oh, hell they don’t compare favorably to anyone with a brain and reasonably decent language skills.
Ouch, ouch – I am doing ‘in the old days’…Okay, I’ll go quietly to the home now.