It remains a mystery why Tweetspeak Poetry chose Prufrock for me to memorize. If they didn’t feel like I was done with Thomas E, or he with me, and they wanted me to extend my brainy pathways with something long, they could have chosen a more sing-songy piece—like maybe something from the Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats—say “Growltiger’s Last Stand.”
Growltiger was a Bravo Cat, who travelled on a barge;
In fact he was the roughest cat that ever roamed at large.
From Gravesend up to Oxford he pursued his evil aims,
Rejoicing in his title of ‘The Terror of the Thames.’
Couplets in the cortex. Read it three times. Recite it a couple times. Maybe even sing it. Boom! Memorized. Even easier than The Stolen Child.
I’ve come to realize, though, there’s always a method behind Tweetspeak’s mischief, and at least their dares come wreathed with fun: surprises behind every door and fires in every synapse.
So it’s Prufrock instead of Growltiger. Perhaps it’s important that Prufrock was Eliot’s launch into published poetrydom in 1915—all 139 lines written, by the way, when he was only 22 years old.
They could have overheard me muttering about lost time and growing older and thought this poem might fit me even though I might have to roll up my trousers—I mean, jeans. Or maybe they chose it just because it’s “a great poem worthy of the effort.”
It’s taking me longer than a whole college semester plus Christmas vacation and spring break to finish it off. I take comfort from having read somewhere that when it comes to retention, slow and steady wins over cramming. That may account for why I can’t remember much from high school.
I said yes because I (almost) never turn down a good dare, and I wanted to prove to myself I could do it, even “at my age.” I’ve since learned that there are some very good reasons to memorize poetry—even poems the length of a Burmese python. . . .
Continued over at Tweetspeak Poetry where I share ten reasons why choosing to commit poetry is a very good thing. And there’s good discussion happening there, too. Join us.