Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Poetry Out Loud

Each day this month I've been posting a poem: one I like, want to remember, or has special meaning.

It's easy to read poetry.

Much more difficult to write.

But it's an exercise in discipline to memorize and recite.

It can even be a gift.

From Caroline Kennedy:
For each holiday or birthday, John and I would have to write or chose a poem for my mother. We had to copy it down and illustrate it, and she pasted them all in a special scrapbook.

In fourth grade, I remember struggling to memorize I Corinthians 13 or the Love Poem. The problem was not with the words, but the fact that I had waited until the night before to begin the process.

Today in Washington, DC, the finalists in the Poetry Out Loud contest are reciting their final selections and soon we will know the winner.

I'm curious to know who wins.

And what poem was recited.

In the meantime, for today?

Tell me about the first poem you had to memorize and recite.


  1. I remember memorizing and reciting the 24th Psalm in the fifth grade, the only year I went to a Christian school.

    Other than that... I can't recall ever having to memorize, let alone recite, a poem until high school. Either in speech or drama class we had to recite a poem and I chose "Jabberwocky."

    Those two are to this day my favorite Psalm and my favorite poem.

    Oh wait -- I remember once in elementary school (I think I was in fourth grade) deciding to memorize "A Visit From St Nicholas" to recite to my family on Christmas Eve. I started only a day or two before Christmas and didn't have the whole thing down pat, but was able to say it with only a few glances at the page I'd copied it down on. So that one doesn't quite count because I can only remember snatches of today, where I can still recite Psalm 24 and Jabberwocky at the drop of a hat.

  2. It's truly a conversation-starter. I mean ask anyone and s/he can usually remember a poem from grade school.

    I have a special relationship with Psalm 24 as well. It's the one I was called on to read responsively with my classmates in chapel.

    I'll never forget how nervous I was, but I also will never forget the majesty of God I felt when reciting those verses.

    Also, gifts of poetry from our children are most special. I'm off to try and find one from DD#2.

  3. I was 5 and in kindergarten and we had to memorize Vachel Lindsay's poem, "The Little Turtle,"

    I had a little turtle
    Who lived in a box
    He swam in a puddle
    He climbed on the rocks.

    He snapped at a minnow,
    He snapped at a flea,
    He snapped at a mosquito
    And he snapped at me.

    He caught the minnow,
    He caught the flea,
    He caught the mosquito
    But he didn't catch me!

    and "Purple Cow"

    I never saw a purple cow
    I never hope to see one.

    But I can tell you this right now
    I'd rather see than be one!

    In 3rd grade we had to recite Psalm 100 every morning before class. We also had to recite the 23rd Psalm. I went to public school. The public school in the town I now live in has the kids recite a Psalm every morning and pray together before they start classes.

  4. There are few places like that left these days, Laura. Thanks for sharing your memories.