I recently watched a talk Coach John Wooden gave and noticed how much poetry he had memorized. I think it would be a good way to make myself more well-rounded and I was curious what you all think a man should have in his poetry repertoire.
I have always liked Invictus but I feel like it's not quite as special anymore because more people know it from the movie.
I think it does men good to at least find and memorize a few poems he feels express sentiments he agrees with, or articulate a reaction to a subject close to his own feelings, or is just beautiful.
A few poems I memorized through love, not effort - in no particular order:
The Hangman by Maurice Ogden (Well, almost know this one by heart - it's a bit long)
I'm sure I'll think of more.
Excellent post. Thank you.
Jules: There's a passage I got memorized. Ezekiel 25:17. "The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of the darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy My brothers. And you will know I am the Lord when I lay My vengeance upon you." Now... I been sayin' that shit for years. And if you ever heard it, that meant your ass. You'd be dead right now. I never gave much thought to what it meant. I just thought it was a cold-blooded thing to say to a motherfucker before I popped a cap in his ass. But I saw some shit this mornin' made me think twice. See, now I'm thinking: maybe it means you're the evil man. And I'm the righteous man. And Mr. 9mm here... he's the shepherd protecting my righteous ass in the valley of darkness. Or it could mean you're the righteous man and I'm the shepherd and it's the world that's evil and selfish. And I'd like that. But that shit ain't the truth. The truth is you're the weak. And I'm the tyranny of evil men. But I'm tryin', Ringo. I'm tryin' real hard to be the shepherd.
+1 Tell that bitch "Be Cool!"
Go back to the beginning. Start with the Iliad and Odyssey, and start working your way forward from there.
Take a look at Yeats' "The Second Coming" or Agee's "Sure on this Shining Night".
1. Kublai Khan
2. Anything by Edward Lear
If you want soemthing more meaningful, then either stop looking for meaning in the art of arranging words nicely, or just write a poem yourself. I found Stephen Fry's book on writing poetry very good, but I've never looked in any other book on it.
Here is one of my favorite poems. I learned it in American Lit. during high school--50 years ago. I've used the wisdom of these 4 lines with great success over the past half century.
"He drew a circle that shut me out.
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout
But love and I had the wit to win,
We drew a circle that shut him in."
Edwin Markham (1852-1940
Remember there are a ton of great contemporary poets as well. You don't have to only read stuff from the 19th century.
My favorite contemporary poets:
and there are plenty more
Anything by Rudyard Kipling
I do believe he could do without Danny Deever.