Mai
9th

Memorizing poetry with visual thinking

Categories: Categorie 1 | Étiquettes : , , , , ,

Recently a friend of mine discovered mindmapping and decided to try to
use it to memorize poetry, an ongoing although until now frustrated
ambition. 

About a week later, we met in a café and she proceeded to recite poetry to me for half an hour — including Dover Beach by Matthew Arnold (see below).  I was truly astounded, not only that she had successfully memorized all this poetry but by the remarkable delivery and the way the central metaphors came through so clearly in the way she spoke the verses.

Then she showed me the visual notes she used to memorize Mathew Arnold's poem.  Once again we see how simple imagery combined with words can make meaning more accessible and enhance our ability to remember that meaning.  The oral tradition lives!   Imagine having all this wonderful poetry in your head, ready to be spoken and enrich everyone's lives…  Is this how Homer learned the Odyssey, one wonders?

Off to memorize Dover Beach myself.

Dover beach

Dover Beach

The sea is calm to-night.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits; on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand;
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanched land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.

Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the A gaean, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; we
Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.

The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.

Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

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