Last week my friend and I memorized Spanish poems, both of us choosing Pablo Neruda. Memorizing the poem was surprisingly easy, either because I’m getting better at this or because Neruda is a really awesome poet. I think it’s mostly the latter. The fun part about memorizing these poems has been seeing for the first time the underlying structure of each one. “Puedo Escribir Los Versos Mas Tristes Esta Noche” has been kind of daunting to me, because it repeats a lot of lines and thoughts, sometimes exactly and sometimes with a slight twist, which makes the poem very cool and dreamlike but, by extension, kind of hard to wrap your head around. Memorizing it forced me to find all of the inner logic, and I like the poem even more now. That’s kind of becoming a theme with every poem I memorize.
This week’s poem, as previously announced, is “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.” This is a huge poem, and memorizing it in a single week is going to be really hard, so I’ve broken it down into seven pieces. If you’re playing along at home, here’s the piece to memorize today; it’s nice and short to make it easy on the holiday.
Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question . . .
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Let us go and make our visit.
I’ll come back tomorrow with part 2. If you’re memorizing something else this week, let us know.