Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Love Language

"To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it's about,
but the inner music the words make."
—Truman Capote

Mrs. Wagstaff, my 9th grade English teacher, made us memorize poems and recite them every Monday. I hated it. But, I still remember them, and they continue to touch my heart with their inner music. Here are some of the words that taught me to love words:

"Silently, one by one, in the infinite meadows of Heaven,
Blossom the lovely stars, the forget-me-nots of the angels."

Annabelle Lee
"She was a child, and I was a child, in this kingdom by the sea,
But we loved with a love that was more than love,
I and my Annabelle Lee.
We loved with a love that the winged seraphs of Heaven
Coveted her and me."
—Edgar Allan Poe

"By the shores of Gitche Gumee,
By the shining Big-Sea-Water,
Stood the wigwam of Nokomis,
Daughter of the moon Nokomis ...
And the little Hiawatha."

"Little boy kneels at the foot of his bed,
Drooped on his little hands, little gold head.
Hush! Hush! Whisper—who dares?
Christopher Robin is saying his prayers."
—A. A. Milne

Touch of the Master's Hand
"Twas battered and scarred, and the auctioneer
Thought it scarcely worth his while
To waste much time on the old violin,
But he held it up with a smile."
—Myra Brooks Welch

Little Orphant Annie
"Little Orphant Annie's come to our house to stay,
To wash the cups and saucers, and brush the crumbs away."
—James Whitcomb Riley

Casey at the Bat
"There was ease in Casey's manner as he stepped into his place;
There was pride in Casey's bearing and a smile lit Casey's face.
And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,
No stranger in the crowd could doubt 'twas Casey at the bat."
—Ernest Lawrence Thayer

Wynken, Blynken and Nod
"Wynken, Blynken and Nod one night
Sailed off in a wooden shoe—"
—Eugene Field

What Does the Train Say
"What does the train say? Jiggle joggle, jiggle joggle.
What does the train say? Jiggle joggle jee."
—Laura E. Richards

"And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England's mountain green?
And was the holy lamb of God
On England's pleasant pastures seen?"

"It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul."
—William Ernest Henley

The Road Not Taken
"I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."
—Robert Frost

Thank you, Mrs. Wagstaff!
You made a difference.


Diane said...

Someone made that difference in my son-in-law's life, and our whole family has been blessed by it. Now my grandchildren are memorizing poems - individually, and as a family.

Heather P said...

As a teacher (of 9th grade English, to boot!) I so appreciate this post! What lovely thoughts... and I love Invictus!

Kay Dennison said...

Lots of my favs here!!! Obviouly we ate of a certain age because I had to memorize a lot, too!! I can still recite the Gettysberg Address and most of the many poems I was required to learn. My favorite? The last verse from William Cullen Bryant's "Thanatopsis" -- an assignment from my Dad . . .

"So live, that when thy summons comes to join
The innumerable caravan which moves
To that mysterious realm, where each shall take
His chamber in the silent halls of death,
Thou go not, like the quarry-slave at night,
Scourged to his dungeon, but, sustained and soothed
By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave
Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch
About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams."

marta said...

i always think people who know poems by heart are so smart! (like you, mart!) president monson always weaves them into his talks, which i love!

thanks for teaching me wynken, blynken and nod. i say it to myself (and try to remember the words) all the time!

Misty said...

Oh, I love them. Like, you have to read them with a reverential tone. My favorite from The Road Not Taken is
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

Makes you really think about your decisions, no?

Susan Adcox said...

My sister and I used to memorize poems for fun and recite them to each other while we were doing the dishes. We started off with Robert Louis Stevenson and moved on to Robert Frost and Emily Dickinson. We tried the longer poems like "Casey at the Bat," "Little Orphant Annie" and "Annabelle Lee" as well as "The Highwayman." I don't know that we ever mastered the longer ones, but we could recite long chunks, and it was fun to try.