[Milton-L] Memorized poetry

Duran, Angelica A duran0 at purdue.edu
Sat Jun 16 18:05:48 EDT 2012


Dear scholars,

Thanks to those who have responded on- and off-list.

I’ll add that
• here in the U.S., you can count on those of my generation knowing the preamble of the U.S. Because of Schoolhouse Rock, shown with Saturday morning cartoons — now available on DVDs
• I’ve heard that the melody of “The Yellow Rose of Texas” is particularly helpful for memorizing Emily Dickinson and other 19th-century poets.
• Joshua Foer’s 2011 Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything is a fun, popular read, even though it casts aspersions on the work of our man Milton: “To use Simonides’ technique all one has to do is convert something unmemorable, like a string of number or deck of cards or a shopping list or Paradise Lost into a series of engrossing visual images and mentally arrange them within an imagined space and suddenly those forgettable items become unforgettable” (94).

Adios, Angelica


On 6/16/12 3:38 PM, "Ryan Paul" <ryanspaul at gmail.com> wrote:

Here's a very helpful site to help those interested in memorizing more poetry for themselves (or getting their students to memorize poems):

http://www.memorizenow.com/

Best,
Ryan Singh Paul




On Sat, Jun 16, 2012 at 3:24 PM, E.A.M. Sheehan <e.sheehan at qub.ac.uk> wrote:
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 <http:///mc/compose?to=milton-l-bounces%40lists.richmond.edu> [ mailto:milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu <http:///mc/compose?to=milton-l-bounces%40lists.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 <http:///mc/compose?to=duran0%40purdue.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:
 € What specific pomes did you memorize / do you assign?
 * were you given / do you give any written instructions in coordination with
 the assignment?
 € were you given / do you give a grading rubric?
 € was / is the assignment early or late in the term, or does it not matter
 for you?
 € how did / does delivery of the recitation work? In class, in your office,
 at a public event?
 € 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:///mc/compose?to=duran0%40purdue.edu> >
 < http://www.cla.purdue.edu/english/directory/index.cfm?personid=80 <http://www.cla.purdue.edu/english/directory/index.cfm?personid=80> >
 < http://www.cla.purdue.edu/religious-studies/ <http://www.cla.purdue.edu/religious-studies/> >



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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


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