[Milton-L] Memorized poetry

E.A.M. Sheehan e.sheehan at qub.ac.uk
Sat Jun 16 15:24:35 EDT 2012


As an undergraduate I memorised medieval Latin lyrics to the rhythms of the weekend train 
from Belfast to Derry!!
Estelle



On 16 Jun 2012 at 5:26, Tony Demarest wrote:

I had to memorize ll 1-20 of Book I of Homer's Odyssey in Greek and ll 1-20 of Book IX- then 
sing them to Sousa's Stars and Stripes to get the dactylic hexameter right. 
Good thing it was an all boys school.


Date: Fri, 15 Jun 2012 19:26:59 -0700
From: bblair48 at yahoo.com
To: milton-l at lists.richmond.edu
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Memorized poetry

I had to memorize parts of _Julius Caesar_ in high school (c. 1965). I recall them tolerably well. 
But I remember best (and still recite) three pieces from non-academic sources: 

1. My friend Brian Price and I spent a week on the Current River in Missouri. One night, around a 
fire on a gravel bar, he taught me Keats's "Much have I traveled in the realms of gold...". And 
many goodly states and kingdoms seen.

2. "The Spell of the Yukon". Price may have been involved in that, too; I don't remember. I still 
mumble parts of it as I go to sleep: "And the summers, no fairer were ever./The sun-shiny woods 
all athrill;/The grayling aleap in the river,/And the bighorn asleep on the hiill...."

3, Houseman's "Terrance, this is stupid stuff...". I learned this just because I wanted to. "And 
therefore, since the world has still/Much good, but much less good than ill,/I'd face it as a wise 
man would,/And train for ill and not for good."

It's good to lead a horse to water. Making undergraduates memorize may unlock a desire to drink 
that will satisfy a thirst many years later.

--- On Fri, 6/15/12, Mario A. DiCesare <dicesare1 at mindspring.com> wrote:

From: Mario A. DiCesare <dicesare1 at mindspring.com>
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Memorized poetry
To: "John Milton Discussion List" <milton-l at lists.richmond.edu>
Date: Friday, June 15, 2012, 4:46 PM

There are, or at least were, ways of making this work fairly well. Back in 1943, as I began my 
junior year in a poor-boys prep school (our families paid between five and thirty dollars a month for 
tuition, room, and board -- but of course we worked hard on the school farm...), a new priest just 
out of semiary and full of beans decided to do something different with Macbeth.

l had little regard for Shakespeare in those days -- the first two years had been pretty much a 
disaster. But this new young priest, Father Joe Donahue, wanted to do things differently. We were 
to read Macbeth in our class, and he was determined that this experience would not be the same 
as our experience with Julius Caesar in the previous year, as he'd heard of it from some of my 
more enterprising classmates. We started it in the regular morning class, but then he surprised us 
by suggesting that if anyone wanted to do some extra reading of the play, we might come to his 
rooms. Four of us did. A large box of succulent chocolates sat, open for all to see and lust after, 
on his coffee table, but we could not touch until we'd done our work. We did our work. The 
presence of the chocolates made the work pleasant, and Macbeth finally turned me on to 
Shakespeare. When he asked us to memorize speeches, no one objected, and we worked hard 
at it.

Joe died last year. The news revived all sorts of warm memories.

Mario

On 6/15/2012 7:30 PM, Carrol Cox wrote: 
    What one memorizes in high school doesn't necessarily remain 
    with one. My speech teacher in h.s. arranged for a couple of us 
    to 'entertain' some local music club. I had to memorize some 
    rather long poem by Lowell (the old fart, not Robert). I don't 
    even remember the title of the poem or what it was about, yet I 
    had it well memorized in 1946.
    I did memorize quite a few fragments on my own, & they were 
    useful in getting me through my first night in the polio ward. But 
    I don't remember now what they were.
    Carrol
    
    From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu [mailto:milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] 
    On Behalf Of Michael Gillum
    Sent: Friday, June 15, 2012 11:03 AM
    To: John Milton Discussion List
    Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Memorized poetry
    For decades I have been assigning memorization in course that include lyrics.
    1. I think it is important to allow students wide latitude in what to memorize, since 
    the poems will be stuck in their heads forever. I ask for a poem or selection (from 
    the syllabus) of 14-20 lines. Sometimes I specify iambic pentameter, because it's 
    important that they learn to hear that particular music. I wouldn't specify Paradise 
    Lost, because it is the hardest metrical verse to memorize, owing to the 
    enjambments and long complicated sentences with moveable elements.
    2. Not in writing, but I repeatedly emphasize that to memorize language, you must 
    repeat it out loud. (Some people will attempt useless tactics like writing it out.)
    3. I don't grade it, but assign full points for just getting through the poem. I allow 
    second tries. I make a further deduction from their participation grade if they don't 
    even attempt the assignment.
    4. It should be far enough into the course that students have had the chance to find 
    that they like a poem. Most people can learn a sonnet in an hour or so.
    5. They recite privately in my office. Many kids are anxious enough even without a 
    larger audience. However, I call on all students to read verse aloud and repeatedly 
    during class. I coach the mumblers to try again, read big, don't isolate that 
    enjambment, etc. I think speaking verse adequately should be a learning objective in 
    courses that include poetry.
    As to my experience as a student, I was asked to memorize in high school 50 years 
    ago and can still say the verses. I was not asked to memorize in college. 

    On Thu, Jun 14, 2012 at 4:40 PM, Duran, Angelica A <duran0 at purdue.edu> wrote:
    Dear scholars,
    
    I am interested in finding out about the experiences you have had with
    either assigning or being assigned to memorize early modern British poetry,
    Milton or other.
    
    I would appreciate it if you could respond off-list to any or all of these
    questions:
    EUR What specific pomes did you memorize / do you assign?
    * were you given / do you give any written instructions in coordination with
    the assignment?
    EUR were you given / do you give a grading rubric?
    EUR was / is the assignment early or late in the term, or does it not matter
    for you?
    EUR how did / does delivery of the recitation work? In class, in your office,
    at a public event?
    EUR any neat or funny anecdotes?
    
    I memorized poetry in high school and college, then have elected to memorize
    for my graduate qualifying exams and have memorized a 14-21 line snippet
    nearly every semester since becoming a faculty member 12 years ago. I assign
    memorization and recitation, usually with first recitations in class and
    final recitations at a low-key campus, public events. I'm considering
    extending the assignment to my graduate courses.
    
    Many, thanks.
    
    Adios,
    
    Angelica Duran
    Associate Professor, English and Comparative Literature
    Director, Religious Studies Program
    Purdue University
    500 Oval Drive / Heavilon Hall
    West Lafayette, Indiana 47907
    U.S.A.
    <duran0 at purdue.edu>
    <http://www.cla.purdue.edu/english/directory/index.cfm?personid=80>
    <http://www.cla.purdue.edu/religious-studies/>
    
    
    
    _______________________________________________
    Milton-L mailing list
    Milton-L at lists.richmond.edu
    Manage your list membership and access list archives at 
    http://lists.richmond.edu/mailman/listinfo/milton-l
    
    Milton-L web site: http://johnmilton.org/
    

    
    _______________________________________________
    Milton-L mailing list
    Milton-L at lists.richmond.edu
    Manage your list membership and access list archives at http://lists.richmond.edu/mailman/listinfo/milton-l
    
    Milton-L web site: http://johnmilton.org/


-----Inline Attachment Follows-----

_______________________________________________
Milton-L mailing list
Milton-L at lists.richmond.edu
Manage your list membership and access list archives at 
http://lists.richmond.edu/mailman/listinfo/milton-l

Milton-L web site: http://johnmilton.org/


_______________________________________________ Milton-L mailing list 
Milton-L at lists.richmond.edu Manage your list membership and access list archives at 
http://lists.richmond.edu/mailman/listinfo/milton-l Milton-L web site: http://johnmilton.org/


Estelle Sheehan
Professor of English and Neo-Latin Studies
School of English
The Queen's University of Belfast
Belfast BT7 1NN
Northern  Ireland
Tel. 02890 973152

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.richmond.edu/pipermail/milton-l/attachments/20120616/ba17f965/attachment.html>


More information about the Milton-L mailing list