It’s mind boggling how a poem can find its way into your memory, eliciting emotions decades later.
My earliest memorization of a poem was “Nothing Gold Can Stay,” by Robert Frost. I didn’t find it in a poetry book or in school. When I was 15, I found S.E. Hinton’s book, “The Outsiders,” in my local public library. I didn’t leave the library until I had read the whole book. Then I checked it out to read again.
The coming of age novel was written when S.E. Hinton was a teenager herself and was based on her friend who was jumped for being a “Greaser.” This upset her so much she went home that day and began writing the book.
Two things resonated with me when I read “The Outsiders” : poetry gave words to things I thought were indescribable and that teenage problems were meaningful and worthy of writing about. A few years later, in the 80’s, the movie “The Outsiders,” was made. A whole new generation of teenagers fell in love with her book, characters Ponyboy and Johnny, and Robert Frost’s poem.
S.E. Hinton’s book, although banned for some years because of gang violence and underage drinking, is still on required reading list for middle grade and high school kids. My kids read it, one of them liked the poem so much he did his English Lit paper on the poetry and life of Robert Frost. The other, my daughter, fell in love with the movie and had it on her Christmas list one year.
That’s the magic and power of poetry. A few words or several pages of words, making its way into your heart and then your memory.
Do you remember when you first read a poem that is now a favorite?