By Heart

I’m an increasingly big fan of memorizing poems, and have decided to do something I’d thought about before but never implemented: memorize one poem a week this year. (And now that I’ve said so publicly, well I’ll have to do it won’t I. Oh well, why not?┬áThis week it was “Musee des Beaux Arts” by Auden.)

I think knowing poems by heart is wonderful as a regular person (among other things, it means if you’re stuck somewhere totally boring you can recite a great poem in your head, or if you come to a split in a ski trail you can go all Robert Frost and impress your friends, and you just never know when you might wind up stranded on a freaky tropical isle, or a post-apocalyptic wasteland, and will need something memorized with which to entertain yourself between adventures, or console yourself during zombie terrors etcetera. Television has made me sure of that possibility.) And it’s probably essential as a writer. (How wonderful to not only have great poems even faster than “at hand” but also to internalize their rhythms and movements and mystery.)

There are lots of methods out there for memorizing poems — here’s mine. Continue reading “By Heart”