Tuesday, July 12, 2011

I need your help! Quick!

posted by Melissa
I like to pace while I memorize poetry.
It is July 12th and I have memorized 7 lines of poetry.  I partly feel accomplished, and defeated at the same time.  The 7 lines I have committed to memory are really there, I can recall them at any point and recite them fluidly.  In this I have gained a little confidence to take into my big poem of the month.  But, what poem will that be????

This is where I need your help!  If you could please pick one that you like and let me know which one I should memorize in the comments below, I would greatly appreciate it.

I have narrowed it down to four.  Two of them are "classic" poems, and two are contemporary.  And there too, I wonder, should it be before a certain year, to be old enough to consider it a classic?  What makes a poem or anything a classic?  Was it a classic in it's time, or just later after it aged and its widespread appreciation grew.

Wikipedia defines the term classic as this:
The word classic means something that is a perfect example of a particular style, something of lasting worth or with a timeless quality. The word can be an adjective (a classic car) or a noun (a classic of English literature). It denotes a particular quality in art, architecture, literature and other cultural artifacts. In commerce, products are named 'classic' to denote a long standing popular version or model, to distinguish it from a newer variety. Classic is used to describe many major, long-standing sporting events. Colloquially, an everyday occurrence (e.g. a joke or mishap) may be described as 'an absolute classic'.

So far, looks like I'll be reciting the poem here.
I'll let you be the judge of whether or not the poems I have as your options are classic or not.

I have been having fun with the results of our "Where to recite" poll (It's a close race! and you'll find where to place your vote up on the right hand corner of the blog) and am hoping this poll will be as helpful.  I will start memorizing whichever poem you choose on Thursday at 5pm.  That gives two days to vote on your favorite.

Here they are:

1.  Space, in chains
by Laura Kasischke

Things that are beautiful, and die.  Things that fall asleep in the afternoon, in 
sun.  Things that laugh, then cover their mouths, ashamed of their teeth.  A
strong man pouring coffee into a cup.  His hands shake, it spills.  his wife falls
to her knees when the telephone rings.  Hello?  Goddammit, hello?

Where is their child?

Hamster, tuplis, love, gigantic squid.  To live.  I'm not endorsing it.

Any single, transcriptional event.  The chromosomes of the roses.  Flagella,
cilia, all the filaments of touching, feeling, of running your little hand
hopelessly along the bricks.

Sky, stamped into flesh, bending over the sink to drink the tour de force of

It's all space, in chains - the chaos of birdsong after a rainstorm, the steam
rising off the asphalt, a small boy in boots opening the back door, stepping
out, and someone calling to him from the kitchen,

Sweetie, don't be gone too long.

2.  anyone lived in a pretty how town
by e.e.cummings

anyone lived in a pretty how town
(with up so floating many bells down)
spring summer autumn winter
he sang his didn't he danced his did

Women and men(both little and small)
cared for anyone not at all
they sowed their isn't they reaped their same
sun moon stars rain

children guessed(but only a few
and down they forgot as up they grew
autumn winter spring summer)
that noone loved him more by more

when by now and tree by leaf
she laughed his joy she cried his grief
bird by snow and stir by still
anyone's any was all to her

someones married their everyones
laughed their cryings and did their dance
(sleep wake hope and then)they
said their nevers they slept their dream

stars rain sun moon
(and only the snow can begin to explain
how children are apt to forget to remember
with up so floating many bells down)

one day anyone died i guess
(and noone stooped to kiss his face)
busy folk buried them side by side
little by little and was by was

all by all and deep by deep
and more by more they dream their sleep
noone and anyone earth by april
wish by spirit and if by yes.

Women and men(both dong and ding)
summer autumn winter spring
reaped their sowing and went their came

sun moon stars rain

3.  If
by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!

4.  Summer
by Laura Kasischke

She drank too much
She was after
Some meadow
Some orchard

Some childhood night with the window open, and it was summer, and her
own mother was humming in another room, and through the screen the
fuzzy blue, and suddenly she was out there swimming, too, in softness, a
permanent candle, invisible, beautiful.

She drank too much
For many years
Some stairs
Some cosmetics

I stood in the threshold and watched her disintegrate before a mirror.

My lovely mother before a tray full of bracelets
(Repeat: My lovely mother before a tray full of bracelets)

She invited me in to fish the ice cubes from her drink.  They were warm. On
my tongue.  Such calm.  Like a small bomb detonated in an isolated barn.  Like
a beloved pet in the middle of a busy street, just standing there, looking
Thanks for helping a sista out.

There you have it, your 4 choices.  Just click on where it says comments below the post and you can type in your pick.  You can leave it anonymously, or choose a name to post it with.  

Maybe this was just my way to (hopefully) get you to read four of my favorite poems.  Here's to the fact that you actually did.  You did, right?  You did actually read the poems?



Laura Coleson-Schreur said...

I'd like to think that memorizing a poem is not just for the sake of memorizing but rather an opportunity for transformation in committing it to ones "heart". Therefore I vote for Rudyard Kipling - even with it's masculine reference. e.e.cummings has an opportunity for something here too and I do love his work though sometimes just pure fancy. Have fun!

Melissa said...

Thanks, Laura! I agree, something to take to heart. And, I too, hesitated at the masculinity of the Kipling poem. I often think of Dianne Connelly during this poetry month, how she often drifts into a poem, almost mid thought.

Loretta said...

I like # 4 just 'cos I can relate. By the way I am terrified of public speaking too.

Melissa said...

Thanks for putting in your two cents, Loretta! I really like that one too...so many tangible phrases, like you can imagine being right there.
I'll for sure fill you in on how it goes, the public speaking and all. Yikes!

Lori Carns said...

Kipling is worth recalling forever, if only for the first verse! Second choice is #1.


Melissa said...

Thanks, Lori! The Kipling does have a really great meaning, I can see it coming in handy. You know, not just for party tricks ;)
Thanks for reading along...

Abbe said...

I loved the e. e. Cummings:) definitely my favorite.

Melissa said...

Abbe, That one is so cool, because I feel like it has just as much depth and meaning as the Kipling one, but it is a little more hidden in all the rhymes and playful wording.
Thanks for reading!

Anonymous said...

I vote for #3.....IF seems to suit me, so I'd love to here it from you....at the open mic.....MOM

Melissa said...

Thanks Mom! Looks like #3 is definitely in the lead now. And only 4 hours and 40 minutes to go. :)