My mother used to have us children memorize poems in the summers. I don’t remember if we got a reward or not (learning to dive merited a candy bar, so I suspect the same for poem-memorization), but we didn’t resist.
The easiest poems to memorize were A.A. Milne’s from the wonderful When We Were Very Young and Now We Are Six. Funny and sing-songy, his poems practically demanded memorization, like this, from “Disobedience”:
Weatherby George Dupree
Care of his Mother
Though he was only three.
Said to his Mother,
“Mother,” he said, said he;
“You must never go down to the end of the town, if
you don’t go down with me.”
Fustier and less fun were Robert Louis Stevenson’s poems from Child’s Garden of Verses, but for some reason I still remember the first two lines of one of the poems. And I never even understood it. Maybe I just liked the imperative.
COME up here, O dusty feet!
Here is fairy bread to eat.
Here in my retiring room,
Children, you may dine
On the golden smell of broom
And the shade of pine;
And when you have eaten well,
Fairy stories hear and tell.
This is all by way of introducing the most adorable youtube video I have ever seen. Here is a little boy—a three-year old little boy!—-reciting Billy Collin’s “Litany.” What marvelous parents, to feed their son’s delight in the sounds and flow of language.
If you want to follow along the lengthy poem he’s memorized, click on the “add to” button.
Go ahead and listen—it could be the happiest 2 minutes of your day. Here’s the link: