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Friday, December 01, 2006

Poetry Meme

Cam's Poetry Meme

1. The first poem I remember reading/hearing/reacting to was...
I really can't remember-- Nursery Rhymes, children's poetry, and adult poetry were all available in our house.

2. I was forced to memorize (name of poem) in school and........
I don't remember having to memorize any for school, but I memorized dozens inadvertently from constant reading and re-reading. Lotus mentioned "Abou ben Adhem" by Leigh Hunt and without intending to, I memorized it as a child and even without re-reading can still remember much of it. The same with Ella Wheeler Wilcox and "Solitude"--the lines lend themselves to easy memory. Later, I deliberately learned poems by heart because I loved them.

3. I read/don't read poetry because....
Poetry has always been part of my reading. Poetry evokes so much in such little space, and the meaning of a poem can increase on every reading and can change with the events in your own life.

4. A poem I'm likely to think about when asked about a favorite poem is .......
"Advice to My Son" by Peter Meinke, "In My Craft or Sullen Art" by Dylan Thomas, "Spring and Fall" by Gerard Manley Hopkins, and well, too many to mention and too hard to choose.

5. I write/don't write poetry...
I'm too conscious of the lack of poetic ability.

6. My experience with reading poetry differs from my experience with reading other types of literature.....
Re-reading. I can read a poem several times at a sitting and the same poems over and over year after year.

7. I find poetry.....
A revelation. A poet can say perfectly in a phrase or a line - exactly what I feel or think.

8. The last time I heard poetry...
Was on NPR - Galway Kinnell

9. I think poetry is like....
An onion. Not my original analogy, but I can't remember who said it. Good poetry can have layer after layer of meaning.

Two of my favorite quotes about poetry:

Poetry is the language in which man explores his own amazement. ~Christopher Fry

Poetry is the synthesis of hyacinths and biscuits. ~Carl Sandburg


  1. I like the onion analogy and the Christopher Fry quote.

  2. I loved reading your answers, Jenclair! You've given me some things to look for. :)

  3. I like the Sandburg quote. It might replace 'Fog comes on little cat feet' as my favorite Sandburg line, one that I involuntarily repeat whenever I take the train into the Chicago Loop, even on the sunniest of days. It's from Sandburg's collection 'Chicago Poems'.

    Enjoyed reading your answers!

  4. Dorothy - I wish I could remember the author or the name of the book that compared reading poetry to peeling an onion, but it was too many years ago.

    Bookfool - Thanks! Poetry is such an intimate joy, and I have loved reading different memes to see how others feel.

    Cam - I love the contrast in that quote - the beautiful/ spiritual and the practical/mundane. And the "little cat feet" describing fog is always connected in my mind to Eliot's lines:

    The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes, /
    The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes /
    Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening, /
    Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains, /
    Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys, /
    Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap, /
    And seeing that it was a soft October night, /
    Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.

  5. Ohhh, Jenclair, I'm so happy you like the Abou Ben Adam poem, too! Doesn't it lend itself so well to recitation?

    The onion analogy is so true, certain poems can be deceptively simple and yet, have layers and layers of meaning.

    I'm so glad Cam originated this meme, it's got me thinking about poetry again.

    I'm off to read your favorite poems now - I have read about Dylan Thomas the poet, but cannot remember sitting down to read his poetry, so this will be a treat, thank you!

  6. I have no recollection at all of having to memorize poetry for school. That's not to say that it didn't happen, but I just don't recall it.

  7. Lotus - Yes, I've loved "Abou ben Adhem" since I was very young and love the idea behind it! Dylan Thomas is one of my very favorite poets; the man was obnoxious; the poetry, amazing.

    Carl - I did have to memorize the first of Chaucer's Prologue and a bit from Shakespeare in high school...I'd forgotten about those.