|Courtesy of Eva Schuster|
of Dresden, Germany
and sxc.hu--"vaults in
colour from the palace
Alcazar in Seville."
So I'm going to re-memorize poems I once knew--should be fairly easy--and memorize new ones--less easy. I just started with Hopkins, "Spring and Fall" and Shakespeare's sonnet 98, "From you have I been absent in the spring." Both of those I knew long ago.
Once I took a seminar from critic Mark Spilka. We all had to deliver a paper, and mine included seven Frost poems. (I don't even remember which ones, now, except that "After Apple-Picking" was harder to learn than the others.) As the course went on, I noticed that our professor never looked at the students when they were reading their papers. I memorized all seven of the poems in my essay and practiced them well, and I remember feeling it a signal victory that we stared each other in the eyes during the recitation portions.
What a funny young woman I must have been!
Anyway, I'm now bad at remembering poems and would like to be good at it once again. So I'm planning on using these methods:
- paying extra attention to the first and last words of each line
- paying attention to meter
- attention to sensation and color in the poem
- adding extreme mental images where needed (staff music above Shakespeare's birds, cartoon wiggly lines for fragrance above flowers, etc.)
- paying extra attention to the words that start stanzas and suggest structure (As, in 98, I'm focusing on "From, Yet nor, Nor, Yet," a succession that is a little confusing, especially since "nor" comes in for quite a bit of use in the poem.)
- focusing on repeating the lines that are particularly odd in syntax (Hopkins's "Nor mouth had, no nor mind expressed," for example)
- using buildings that mean something to me as memory palaces when needed--as, my rickety federal house in Cooperstown and the also-rickety arts-and-crafts/Tudor house in Greenville, the Queen Anne house and the primitive house where I spent part of my summers as a child