A rare day

My daddy knew from memory scores of long narrative poems with which he entertained his children and three generations of babies who followed.

Looking through his grammar school textbooks, it is apparent that children in the early 1900s got a better education by far than kids today. He attributed his love of poetry to his mother and his teachers.

I am thankful I had the same experience as a child - English teachers who insisted on memorization. The beautiful Bewey Bowden. Mrs. Myers, who always fondled a brooch at her neck through every lesson. The dainty Miss Amanda Lowther, who should have lived in Elizabethan times.

In those moments when I can push everything else from my mind, I often recite poems learned long ago.

I will always have poems.

Some are so wonderfully lyrical, they slide off the tongue in lazy rhythmic patterns – poems like Longfellow’s “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere” and Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “Kubla Khan.”

When I change my small wooden perpetual calendar over to the first of June, I recite a poem that’s become a ritual:

And, what is so rare as a day in June?
Then, if ever, come perfect days;
When Heaven tries earth if it be in tune,
And over it softly her warm ear lays;
Whether we look, or whether we listen,
We hear life murmur or see life glisten.

That’s all I remember of the lengthy James Russell Lowell poem my daddy recited so many years ago.

But, it’s enough to make the first of June a very special day.


I located a copy of Lowell’s entire poem online – nature waking to the joyful, carefree days of summer. You just can’t read it without feeling good: LINK


Anonymous said...

My mother did the same all her life. I have a set of the McGuffey's readers. As a child, my favorite was Robert Louis Stevenson's "The Swing." I'd quote that while swinging as high as I could in the swing hanging from a limb of a big sycamore tree. I still love to swing. Use to take my kids to the parks all the time so I could swing. We were required to memorize poetry also. My oldest sister did the entire poem of "The Little Boy and The Dyke" for one of her classes.

Your blog brings back a lot of memories! Thanks....

Anonymous said...

Frodo is partial to Joyce Kilmer, because his identity surprises everyone. Dead soldiers, it seems, remind us of why we remember our favorite poems in the Springs; trees and poppies, all our favorite things.