Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Poems I've Memorized

Not long ago, a reader of these maunderings wrote and asked if I would list the poems I've memorized.  (I had blogged about memorizing poems a number of months ago.)  I didn't think I had a typed list (each poem lives on a 3x5 card I carry around in my backpack), but then I found one, which I had to update a little.  So ... I think the list below is accurate.

A couple of years ago (still teaching at Western Reserve Academy) I talked one day at an all-school assembly about learning my 100th poem.  Now I'm up in the mid-120s.  Just added "My Last Duchess" the past few weeks and am looking around for another.   I have to review them all, several times a week, usually while I'm walking somewhere, riding the exercise bike, sitting in a waiting room (they used to be great for silent review in faculty meetings!), etc.  Otherwise ... Gone with the Wind.

W. H. Auden
            “Funeral Blues”
            “Musée des Beaux Arts”

Elizabeth Bishop
            “One Art”
            “Breakfast Song”

Philip Booth

Elizabeth Barrett Browning
            “How Do I Love Thee?”

Robert Browning
            “My Last Duchess”

Lord Byron
            “She Walks in Beauty”

Samuel Taylor Coleridge
            “When I Was Young”

Billy Collins
            “After I Heard You Were Gone”

Hart Crane
            “My Grandmother’s Love Letters” (“There are no stars tonight”)

Stephen Crane
            “The Sage Lectured”
            “A Man Saw a Ball of Gold in the Sky”

E. E. Cummings
            “I carry your heart with me”
            “maggie and millie and molly and may”

Charles Dickens
            Opening and closing sentences from A Tale of Two Cities

Emily Dickinson
            “Because I could not stop for death”
            “A bird came down the walk”
            “Hope is the thing with feathers”
            “If you were coming in the fall”
            “I like to see it lap the miles”
            “I taste a liquor never brewed”
            “Much madness is divinest sense”
            “There is no frigate like a book”
            “They say that ‘Time assuages’ —”
            “The going from a world we know”
            “The brain is wider than the sky”

John Donne
            “Death Be Not Proud”
            “The Flea”

Ralph Waldo Emerson
            “Concord Hymn”

John Fletcher
            “Do Not Fear”

Robert Frost
            “Mending Wall”
            “Nothing Gold Can Stay”
            “Questioning Faces”
            “The Road Not Taken”
            “The Silken Tent”
            “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”
            “Acquainted with the Night”

Thomas Hardy
            “When Dead”

A. E. Housman
            “When I was one-and-twenty”

Oliver Wendell Holmes
            “Old Ironsides”

Ted Hughes
            “Hawk Roosting”

Ben Jonson
            “On My First Son”

John Keats
            “Much Have I Travell’d in the Realms of Gold”
            “When I Have Fears That I May Cease to Be”

Martin Luther King, Jr.
            Excerpt from I Have a Dream

Vachel Lindsay
            “Factory Windows”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
            “The Arrow and the Song”
            “The Cross of Snow”
            “My Lost Youth”
            “The Tide Rises, The Tide Falls”
            “Haunted Houses”

John McCrae
            “In Flanders Fields”

Andrew Marvell
            “To His Coy Mistress” (“Had we but world enough”)

William Matthews

Edna St. Vincent Millay
            “The Courage That My Mother Had”
            “Dirge Without Music”
            “First Fig”
            “Only until This Cigarette Is Ended”
            “Second Fig”
            “What Lips My Lips Have Kissed”
            “I Shall Forget You Presently”

Clement Clarke Moore
            “A Visit from St. Nicholas”

Sharon Olds
            “The Clasp”
            “High School Senior” (“For 17 years …”)
            “I Go Back to May 1937”  (“I see them standing…”)

Mary Oliver
            “The Black Snake”
            “When I was young and poor”

Thomas Paine
            “These are the times that try men’s souls ...”

Edgar Allan Poe
            “Annabel Lee”
            “The Raven”
            “To Helen”

John Crowe Ransom
            “Bells for John Whiteside’s Daughter”

Edwin Arlington Robinson
            “Mr. Flood’s Party”
            “Reuben Bright”
            “Richard Cory”

Kay Ryan

Robert W. Service
            “The Cremation of Sam McGee”

William Shakespeare
            “All the world’s a stage” (from As You Like It)
            “But will you woo …?” (from The Taming of the Shrew)
            “Well come, my Kate” (from Shrew)
            “Fie, fie!” (from Shrew)
            “To be or not to be” (from Hamlet)
            “O, what a rogue and peasant slave” (from Hamlet)
            Hamlet (assorted short speeches)
            “Our revels now are ended” (from The Tempest)
            “Sigh No More” (from Much Ado About Nothing)        
            Sonnet  2: “When forty winters shall besiege thy brow”
            Sonnet 18: “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?”
            Sonnet 29: “When, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes”
            Sonnet 30: “When to the sessions of sweet silent thought”
            Sonnet 55: “Not marble, nor the gilded monuments of princes
            Sonnet 56: “Is it thy will thy image should keep open”
            Sonnet 64:“When I have seen by Time’s fell hand defac’d”
            Sonnet 73: “That time of year thou may’st in me behold”
            Sonnet 106: “When in the chronicle of wasted time” 
            Sonnet 116: “Let me not to the marriage of true minds”
            Sonnet 123: “No, Time, thou shalt not boast that I do change”
            Sonnet 130: “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun”
            Sonnet 138: “When my love swears that she is made of truth”
            Sonnet 147: “My love is as a fever, longing still”
Percy Bysshe Shelley

Charles Simic
            “Eternity’s Orphans” (“One night you and I were walking”)

Kathryn Starbuck
            “A Gift”

Robert Louis Stevenson
            “My Shadow”

Alfred, Lord Tennyson
            “The Charge of the Light Brigade”

Dylan Thomas
            “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night”
            “The Force That Through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower”
            “In My Craft or Sullen Art”

Walt Whitman
            “O Captain! My Captain!”

Richard Wilbur
            “Ecclesiastes 11:1”
            “The House”

William Wordsworth
            “I Wandered Lonely As a Cloud”
            “She Dwelt among the Untrodden Ways”
            “A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal”
            “The World Is Too Much with Us”
            “My Heart Leaps Up”

William Butler Yeats
            “Brown Penny”
            “Oil and Blood”
            “The Second Coming”


  1. I am incredibly impressed. Some of my personal favorites from this list: Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Mary Oliver, Shakespeare, and my only disappointment, Ted Hughes but no Sylvia Plath. :)

  2. On Nov. 10th Daniel recited a Robert Service poem, The Cremation of Sam McGee to my sister and I. We were both entertained and amazed at the performance.