poetry by heart

Poetry memorization is a big part of our homeschool. Here are some current poems-in-progress:

Sir I. is working on The Rainbow by Walter de la Mare

I saw the lovely arch
Of Rainbow span the sky,
The gold sun burning
As the rain swept by.

In bright-ringed solitude
The showery foliage shone
One lovely moment,
And the Bow was gone.

Miss M. recently memorized Rain by Robert Louis Stevenson

The rain is falling all around,
It falls on field and tree,
It rains on the umbrellas here,
And on the ships at sea.

My favorite poem to quote (aside from bits and pieces of The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock) is Christina Rossetti’s Who Has Seen the Wind?

Who has seen the wind?
Neither I nor you:
But when the leaves hang trembling,
The wind is passing through.

Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I:
But when the trees bow down their heads,
The wind is passing by.

Whereas David prefers something more in the style of Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll

‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

Which poems do you like to quote? Which ones do you know by heart?


  1. I know that I shall meet my fate
    Somewhere among the clouds above
    Those that I fight I do not hate
    Those that I guard I do not love
    … Nor law nor duty bade me fight
    Nor public men nor cheering crowds
    A lonely impulse of delight
    Drove to this tumult in the clouds
    … (etc)

    There’s something about ‘a lonely impulse of delight’ that hits me every time.

    And, of course, ‘The Raven’ but I’m not going to type that all out :p

    • Ooh, yes. That does give one that shivery-thrilly feeling up the spine, doesn’t it?

      You’ll notice that I didn’t post ALL of Jabberwocky, either, though D. does know it all verbatim. *wry*

  2. Love William Wadsworth Longfellow, especially love to quote “The Children’s Hour.” And goodness! So many classics from the 100 Best Loved Poems book I got in 4th grade for one buck. I wish I could remember all their titles instead of just line after line, but I’ve always loved poetry. That rhymes, has meter, and works.

    • I’m rediscovering poetry with my children. They LOVE for me to read poetry aloud to them. I must work it into our school day more–National Poetry Month gives me a great excuse to do so!

  3. Alas, I have to admit. Not a poetry person. I don’t even recognize any of the poems quoted above, other than Jabberwocky, which I read once. (Though I know the name Christina Rossetti, because she and her poetry are in one of my favorite movie! I actually didn’t know she was a real person until right now, reading your post! Despite being an English major, I am not up on my literature in certain areas.)

    That aside, there used to be this silly poem my dad quoted in his planetarium shows that I still have most of memorized for some completely unknown reason! Maybe because I learned it from the spoken word not a book? Don’t know! But it’s stuck in my head for the past twenty+ years! It was about Saturn’s moon, Phoebe.

    Phoebe Phoebe whirling high
    In our neatly plotted sky
    Listen, Phoebe, to my lay
    won’t you whirl the other way?
    All the other moons are good
    And behave the way they should
    Only you of that bright throng
    still persist in going wrong

    and I can’t remember the rest… Don’t know the author either. Must ask my dad that!

    • I can see why you’d remember that one! I love how the rhymes and rhythms of poetry make it so easy to memorize.

  4. C and T did selections from the “Song of Hiawatha” this term. All the kids have loved the whole thing. I don’t know that I’d ever read The Whole Thing before… I’m not usually one for non-rhyming poetry, but this just scans so beautifully, it doesn’t feel like the rhyme is missing.

    Then the little Hiawatha
    Learned their names and all their secrets,
    How they built their nests in summer,
    Where they hid themselves in winter,
    Talked with them whene’er he met them,
    Called them “Hiawatha’s Chickens.”
    Of all beasts he learned the language,
    Learned their names and all their secrets,
    How the beavers built their lodges,
    Where the squirrels hid their acorns,
    How the reindeer ran so swiftly,
    Why the rabbit was so timid,
    Talked with them whene’er he met them,
    Called them “Hiawatha’s Brothers.”

    • Oh, yes, that is very rhythmic even without the rhyme. We haven’t read Hiawatha yet–just waiting till we get closer to talking about Native Americans in our world history first!

  5. I love that you work poetry memorization into your homeschool! I grew up homeschooled (12 years!) and look forward to doing it for my future kids. One of the fun parts of being the teacher would be getting to draft the assignments…like memorizing great poems!

    I love Arthur O’Shaughnessy’s “Ode” (which I had to memorize for a college class):
    “We are the music-makers
    And we are the dreamers of dreams
    Wandering by the lone sea-breakers
    And sitting by desolate streams.
    World-losers and world-forsakers
    On whom the pale moon gleams
    Yet we are the movers and shakers
    Of the world forever, it seems…”

    (and there are 2 more stanzas). Great stuff!

  6. Thank you for sharing the Christina Rossetti poem. Very pretty!
    This one resides in the Scrivener doc for my current revision project:

    This Living Hand
    This living hand, now warm and capable

    Of earnest grasping, would, if it were cold

    And in the icy silence of the tomb,

    So haunt thy days and chill thy dreaming nights

    That thou would[st] wish thine own heart dry of blood

    So in my veins red life might stream again,

    And thou be conscience-calm’d—see here it is—

    I hold it towards you.
    John Keats

    There are some great poems in the comments! Nice idea for a post. :)

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