Dawn Reader

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

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Nerd on a Walk

By the time I was teaching my final few years at Western Reserve Academy (I retired in June 2011), I'd memorized all of Poe's "The Raven." (I think I've written about why and how I learned in an an earlier post? Too lazy to look right now.) Anyway, by that time I'd been memorizing poems for decades--and I knew a simple lesson: If I didn't review them--often--I'd lose them. And that takes time, reviewing the 130-some poems I have memorized. As I've written here before, I have a set of them I do on M-W-F while I'm on the exercise bike, another set for T-Th-Sa. I also have a couple that I recite just about every day while I drive to the health club ("The Boy Stood on the Burning Deck" and "My Last Duchess"). But for "The Raven," in those WRA years, I'd discovered this: If I started reciting it when I left the house to walk to school, by the time I touched the door to Seymour Hall (my classroom building), I was reciting the final words shall be lifted nevermore. Soon I was timing that walk, home to school, so that I always finished the poem just as I grabbed the door's handle. I found a kind of--what?--satisfaction (?) in doing that.

Well, I also have yet another set of poems I do while walking back and forth to Bruegger's Bagels every morning. I do them on Monday-Tuesday-Thursday-Friday. Four days keeps them solidly in mind. Here they are:

  • The Walking-to-Bruegger's Set
    • Auden, "Musée des Beaux Arts"
    • Bishop, "Breakfast Song"
    • Booth, "Nightsong"
    • Collins, "After I Heard You Were Gone"
    • Crane, "A Man Saw a Ball of Gold in the Sky"
    • Cummings, "maggie and milly and molly and may"
    • Dickinson, "A Bird Came down the Walk"
      • I time this one so that I start saying it as the sidewalk begins a down slope.
    • Dickinson, "The Going from a World We Know"
    • Dickinson, "The Brain Is Wider Than the Sky"
    • Dickinson, "I Taste a Liquor Never Brewed"
    • Donne, "The Flea"
    • Frost, "Fire and Ice"
    • Frost, "Acquainted with the Night"
    • Hardy, "When Dead"
    • Houseman, "When I Was One and Twenty"
    • Hughes, "Mother to Son"
    • Jonson, "On My First Son"
    • Masefield, "Sea Fever"
    • Matthews, "Misgivings"
    • Millay, "Sonnet XI" ("I Shall Forget You Presently, My Love")
    • Poe, "To Helen"
    • Ransom, "Bells for John Whiteside's Daughter"
    • Ryan, "Spiderweb"
    • Starbuck, "A Gift"
      • By now--I'm waiting at the crosswalk on Rt. 303, with Bruegger's right across the street.
    • Shakespeare
      • "Our revels now are ended"
      • "When in the chronicle of wasted time"
      • "When to the sessions of sweet silent thought"
In Bruegger's I have my little breakfast, do my Kirkus reading for the day (100 pp.), then head back home and do the second batch of poems.
  • The Walking-Home Set
    • Shakespeare
      • "O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I"
      • "I will tell you why; so shall my anticipation / prevent your discovery"
      • "'Tis now the very witching time of night"
      • "There's a special providence in the fall of a sparrow"
    • Stevenson, "Requiem"
    • Tennyson, "The Charge of the Light Brigade"
    • Thomas
      • "In My Craft or Sullen Art"
      • "The Force That Through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower"
    • Whitman, "O Captain! My Captain!"
    • Wilbur, "Ecclesiastes 11:1"
    • Wordsworth
      • "My Heart Leaps Up"
      • "The World Is Too Much with Us"
    • Yeats
      • "Oil and Blood"
      • "When You Are Old"
      • "The Second Coming"
I'm sure you see an alphabetical pattern here! Well, that helps me remember the sequence. So now you know how I spend part of the morning on M-T-Th-F. So if you see me walking, lips moving, no sounds emerging, relax: I've not "gone over"; I'm just having a conversation with a few special friends who live in my head.

PS--Just looked up my earlier post about "The Raven": Link

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