Classic poetry has always been (as my granddaughter would say) my jam. My mom always read the classics to us as children and I, in turn, read them to my children when they were young.
I never gave the content much thought other than to be taken in by the descriptive lines and my mother’s ability to captivate us in the way she read them. It wasn’t until I was reading them to my sister when she lay dying in the hospital, I realized how sad many of them were. I even found myself skipping some of the lines about death and dying because suddenly it was all a little too real for me.
Two of my favorite poems were Little Orphant Annie and The Raggedy Man, both by James Whitcomb Riley. It is interesting to read about the inspiration for both and how they inspired works by other people. (Little Orphan Annie and Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy) I can close my eyes and still hear my mother’s voice as she recited the poems from memory.
I fell in love with all the great poems: The Wreck of the Hesperus, Annabel Lee, The Highwayman, Abou Ben Adhem. I loved the rhythm, the imagery, and the movement associated with each. Maybe this is why I have such an affinity for the written word.
As my children got older, they, too, learned to love these poems. They also found poems they loved and wrote poems of their own. While living in Alaska, my daughter fell in love with the poems of Robert Service with her favorite being The Cremation of Sam McGee. I am sure she can still recite it in its entirety. (I text her and like clockwork, my phone rang and she started reciting it from memory. I will do her a kindness and not tell you how many years ago she first memorized this poem.)
How wonderful to think that our written words could live long after us and inspire the generations to come. Through the years the book of poetry my mother read from disappeared.
My daughters did some research and bought me a copy which I treasure. (I went down to photograph the book and realized I now have the previously ‘lost’ copy and my gifted copy may have ended up with my daughter. I suspect thievery.)
I wonder if current students still study these authors and know these poems? I sure hope so.
“The heart, like the mind, has a memory.
And in it are kept the most precious keepsakes.”