Poemtry (pronounced Poem-Tree). That is what my kids called it when I pulled out Shel Silverstein and read to them, back in the day.
Dan Wells is memorizing a poem every week during the summer. He invited other folks to participate. Rob Wells, not to be outdone by his older brother, joined in. That wasn’t enough to push me over the edge, but when Sarah Eden joined the club, I caved. When my two co-hosts on The Appendix are memorizing poems, it’s time for me to suck it up and wade into the mental fray. Otherwise they will mock me during the breaks when we’re recording. You think they are all nice by the way they talk on the podcast, but as soon as the microphone goes off, they start making fun of me. Mostly about my beard. Sometimes Sarah kicks me under the table.
But I digress.
I served an LDS mission. Our particular mission was big on scripture memorization. You had to memorize 30 scriptures before you could drive a car. I struggled with memorizing scriptures. I would read a verse over and over and over to no avail. When I finally did memorize a scripture, I woke up the next day and realized I’d forgotten it all.
But I pressed on. Mostly because I wanted to drive. You won’t pick up girls if you can’t drive the mission Ford Escort station wagon. The more I memorized, the more I found that it came easily. The first few scriptures would take me weeks before I finally got them. Toward the end of my mission, it become much easier. I remember very distinctly writing down a scripture I wanted to memorize. After I finished, I read the whole thing, line by line. I flipped the card over and realized that I could recite it after only one reading (and one writing). It’s the closest I’ve ever come to a photographic memory. By the end of my mission, I had over 300 scriptures (over 500 verses) memorized. I kept them in a box, and would recite each one at least once a month.
I’ve gotten out of the habit, but I’m looking forward to a little exercise. I’m a week behind, but I’ve already memorized my “makeup” poem.
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening – Robert Frost
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
Why did I choose this one? I think it’s obvious. It’s a sixteen line poem but . . . THE LAST TWO LINES ARE IDENTICAL! I only had to memorize fifteen lines! I get all the glory of a sixteen line poem, but only had to memorize fifteen lines. I’m laughing all the way to the poem-memorizing glory bank.
For my second poem, I’m choosing a shorter one, but still a favorite. It’s a Shel Silverstein, and the goal is to have it by Sunday.
LISTEN TO THE MUSTN’TS
Listen to the MUSTN’TS child,
Listen to the DON’TS
Listen to the SHOULDN’TS
The IMPOSSIBLES, the WON’TS
Listen to the NEVER HAVES
Then listen close to me–
Anything can happen, child
ANYTHING can be.