In the particular grammar curriculum I have chosen the kids are required to memorize various poems. When I first picked this curriculum I thought the poetry part (not poetry in general, just the memorization at a young age) was kind of a waste of time. Why? Now I see the benefits in learning to memorize, becoming acquainted with poetry and the culture they come from, and learning how fun language can be. I suppose as a grown up not in official school anymore I have forgotten how fun picking out and rearranging words is. So I guess even though I haven’t currently read any studies on the benefits of memorizing and reciting poetry, I have learned through experience that it is at least fun… and exposes the kids to something that might really peak their interests and enhance other skills and talents. (the more I think about it, learning how to work and understand language on a poetic level will probably help them in reading older documents and scripture, which is often layered beyond imaginable.
I’ll spend more time on some of the other poems we’ve gone over, but right now I wanted to spend a few minutes on the poem my oldest (3rd grade) is learning right now. It is called “The Bells” by Edgar Allen Poe.
First of all, he isn’t required to memorize the entire poem – which is good because it is long and he is only in 3rd grade! The book only has him memorize the first stanza. Here is the part of the poem he is supposed to learn (we read/recite it 3 times a day preferably every day but more realistically on MW and Fs when we have grammar lessons. I think the book has his work on one poem for about 3 weeks or so.)
Hear the sledges with the bells-- Silver bells! What a world of merriment their melody foretells! How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle, In the icy air of night! While the stars that oversprinkle All the heavens, seem to twinkle With a crystalline delight; Keeping time, time, time, In a sort of Runic rhyme, To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells From the bells, bells, bells, bells, Bells, bells, bells-- From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells.
Isn’t that pretty! Yeah, well the poem gets a little weirder and creepier the farther into it you get (another bonus for only memorizing the 1st stanza) but it is Edgar Allan Poe, after all.
Still, we went online to try and find the entire poem. We found this!
Creepy! But then we found this!!
In love! Let me just say Phil Ochs makes Poe way more memorizable. (even though the first stanza of this poem, I think, is lovely and delightful!)