It’s Day 25 of Nano Poblano (Ra’s version of NaBloPoMo) and I’ve drawn a blank. Fortunately Ra kindly left a prompt page for such occasions. Although they are list-prompts, I aimed to find one that inspired a non-list post.

“Things I have memorised”

I did drama at school and frequently joined school productions. I always felt safer playing someone else.

My school at one time, participated in a local drama competition. It was a big thing, and boy, did we rehearse. We rehearsed so much that one day, when one of the cast members was off sick, our drama teacher asked if anyone else could say the lines. We all raised our hands. We all knew the entire script. We recited it in unison, our teacher’s mouth dropped open before she said, ‘alright then!’

I wonder sometimes, if I’d still remember. If someone read me a line, I would remember the next?

I still remember some poetry. I gave up drama for more ‘sensible’ career choices but decided to memorise a few poems. The most impressive, was this one:

From Ulysses
Alfred Lord Tennyson
…Come, my friends,
‘T is not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”

This is an excerpt, but I learnt the whole poem off by heart. Poetry played a huge part in my life at the time I decided to commit this to memory. The film, Dead Poets’ Society aided this – the main character reciting these very lines.


O Captain! My Captain.

Also from my poetry days, and possibly from my badly rhymed poetry days, I became very adept with rhyme. If I had to rhyme ‘board’ for a poem, I could run through the alphabet (including nonsensical words) until I found something that might work. Aord, board, cord, dord, eord, ford, gord, hoard, iord, jord, kord, lord…

I studied piano as a child. It could not be said I was good, but I was diligent. Being as slow at reading sheet music as I was with the written word, I survived by memorising it. I called it hand-memory. Through dogged repetition, I remembered where my hands had to be to play the relevant notes. Of course, any mistakes would break the memory, I’d lose my place in the music and I’d panic beyond recovery. I still remember many of them, but I don’t practise much these day and my hands forget.

I’d describe the study of language here in Australia as lazy. My school experience isn’t perhaps the best example, but without commitment, the best you’ll come away with is the ability to count to ten in French, Japanese and German with ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’ and ‘my name is …’ thrown into the equation. I still remember most of this.

What have you memorised?

nanopoblano2015darkDay 25 of Nano Poblano! That is, Ra’s version of NaBloPoMo.

We’re posting everyday in the month of November!

When I say ‘we’ I mean these awesome folk.


15 thoughts on “Memory

  1. As a kid, I was in several plays/musical productions. My senior year we did a show called “Over Here”, a comedy about soldiers on a train heading to basic training. It was great fun. I played a spy and one night I got so involved in the dialogue that another player had to prompt me to say my line. Another night I could not find the middle soprano part that I was supposed to sing, and got completely tickled – just stood in front of the mic with the other two singers and shook with laughter. Great fun – great times!

    Years later, I took to memorizing Scripture. Can’t remember what the point of that was anymore. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. I have memorized odd things… like the social security and drivers license numbers of my ex… even from 20 years ago I still know them. Old phone numbers…cause no one has to remember those anymore. Old addresses like from childhood. I use to memorize scenery and landmarks because that was how I navigated my young world. Old license plates… I make stories up to remember them. My old license plate number was 3AKK125. and the story is 3 A**holes kicked kittens 125 times. Crude and horrible but unforgettable and that was the point. Time is ticking away… I wish I had time to write today before work…but I must begin the shuffle so it will have to wait until after. Kudos to you for memorizing that poem… I don’t think I could have done it. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Ha! I nearly wrote, I knew they’d be stuff I’d memorised that I’d forgotten and then realised how crazy that sounds. But yes, license plates! I still remember my parents’ car number, and my first car. Actually, I still sit in traffic now making stupid names up for people using their plates. I’m great at remembering birthdays too.

    • ‘Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?’ That’s all I’ve got of Shakespeare. That, and ‘out damned spot’! ๐Ÿ™‚

      I do believe some patterns of numbers are easier to remember than others. I can’t for the life of me remember my husband’s phone number but the phone number my grandmother had twenty years ago will obviously be really handy.

      • Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediments
        Love is not love when it alteration finds or bends with the remover to remove
        Oh no, it is an ever fixed mark that looks on tempests and is never shaken
        It is the star to every wandering bark
        yadda yadda

        That was from memory without peeking. I could keep going since I do know the rest, but I’ll end my impressive display of Shakespearery there. ๐Ÿ˜‰

        I also know the one that starts No longer mourn for me when I am dead, but not as well as I’m likely to forget a refrain or two.

  3. I always learned my piano pieces by memorization too. And if I made a mistake, I would just start over from the beginning. It drove my teacher crazy.

    She used to cover my hands so I couldn’t look at them, thinking by doing so she would force me to read the music, but all that did was make me realize that I already knew where all the keys were by feel. I credit her with my ability to look around the room at my leisure (or just stare off into space) as I play.

    But I’m still terrible at sight reading.

    • Yep, I’m still terrible at sight reading, but I can play without looking at my hands. And I’d just stop and start again too. I think that’s the key actually, I’ve notice those better at sight reading tend to push through a piece mistakes and all. I think it maybe too late for me to change now! ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Many many miles and seas apart, across a different culture, and yet, this sounds vaguely familiar – as though a distant dream from my childhood. I can imagine being nervous about singing memorised lines this very minute. I could do it with ease as a child. Now, I need the lyrics on paper in my hand, even if I only glance at the first word of a verse – the rest simply comes from the ‘vocal’ memory!

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