I was delighted to see such a great response to my “memorize a poem every week” challenge. How did everybody do on the first week out? I memorized “High Waving Heather” by Emily Bronte, one of my favorite poems by one of my favorite poets. The first time I read it the last line grabbed me–really jumped out and caught me–and when I recited it for my friend it caught him as well. I was pleased to be able to share the experience with someone. My friend recited “When I Consider How My Light Is Spent,” by John Milton, and my wife recited “Hug of War” by Shel Silverstein (she didn’t have much time last week, and went for a short one). It was a lot of fun, and even my two older children got in on the act, pulling out some of my old poetry collections. A great start to the summer.
Another of my favorite poets is e.e. cummings, and I already have one of his committed to memory: “who knows if the moon’s,” which I used for the epigram of I DON’T WANT TO KILL YOU. It’s a wonderful poem, sweet and simple and kind of sad (at least in my interpretation), and would be a great choice if you’re looking for something to memorize. Since I already have that one, I’m going for a different cummings this week: “I carry your heart,” which is probably my favorite love poem. Men, memorize this one and recite it for your wife/girlfriend/chick you’re trying to pick up at a literary convention. You’ll thank me.
i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)
It’s short, like last week’s, but it lacks the rhyme and meter and other structure that made last week’s poem so easy. I’ll branch into bigger stuff later, but for now I want to keep it simple. My wife is going for a similar length, choosing one of my very favorite Langston Hughes poems, Mother to Son”:
Well, son, I’ll tell you:
Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
It’s had tacks in it,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor—
But all the time
I’se been a-climbin’ on,
And reachin’ landin’s,
And turnin’ corners,
And sometimes goin’ in the dark
Where there ain’t been no light.
So boy, don’t you turn back.
Don’t you set down on the steps
’Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.
Don’t you fall now—
For I’se still goin’, honey,
I’se still climbin’,
And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
One of my favorite parts of this endeavor has been seeing what poems everyone picks, so please, share them here or link to your own blog on Facebook or Twitter. Use the hashtag #PoetrySummer so we can all find each other.