Sunday 11 September 2016


As I was sitting at my computer this morning I could hear blue jays calling to one another. It's a "moody" sort of morning, still wet from rains last night, the air a little cooler than it has been, the sunlight showing bright behind clouds. I had a memory of a poem:

Along the line of smoky hills
The crimson forest stands
And all the day the blue jay calls
Throughout the autumn lands

There's more to the poem, but those four lines are the only ones I remember. I owe this ability to quote a tiny bit of poetry to my grade seven teacher, Mr. Kilburn. He seemed ancient to me at the time but was likely around fifty. He was old fashioned, strict, expected much of all of his students, and was a wonderful art teacher. I believe that he, himself was an artist. He thought it was important to memorize and be precise.

I don't think anyone memorizes anything anymore. If you need to know something, you look it up. It's a thumb movement away. You don't even need to remember phone numbers anymore. I honestly don't even know my cell phone number. I can find it in my cell phone. The two numbers I still have memorized are my university i.d. number (from thirty years ago) and my social insurance number (which I still have). I had to recite or fill in those numbers many times and so they became ingrained. I'm no brain expert, but I'm guessing that when we are forced to memorize something and then recall it, it uses specific parts of our brains. Maybe new synapses are formed. I wonder if that part of the brain will slowly shrink and become nonexistent in future generations.

I know that some bloggers that I read can quote lines of poetry, if not entire poems. To give the poet credit, the four lines above were written by William Wilfred Campbell and the poem is called "Indian Summer". What did you have to memorize as a child that you can still recall?


  1. Funny thing about the phone numbers - I don't know most cell numbers for my contacts, but I can remember all the phone numbers of my high school friends. I can remember birthdates of childhood friends I haven't seen in decades. However, I cannot recall if we ever had to memorize poems or things like that in school.

  2. Now you have me thinking... I remember Jeannie Langille's phone number. We went to elementary school together. Odd. -Jenn

  3. Up the airy mountain.
    down the rushy glen,
    we daren't go a-hunting
    for fear of little men;
    wee folk, strong folk,
    trooping all together.
    Green jacket, red cap and
    white owl's feather.

  4. Ahhh, Weaver, I knew I could count on you! I'm now going to look that up. -Jenn

    1. William Allingham, an Irish poet. Did you learn it in school, or did you teach it to your students?

  5. I remember having to memorize things in school. Seems like a gazillion years ago. I do not remember most phone numbers aside from the ones I dial regularly. I use a landline for phone calls, so it forces me to remember!

  6. I had to memorize entire chapters of the Bible as a child. The only verses I remember now are the ones that were put to music when we went to church camp each summer. Proverbs 3:5-6 still rings in my mind when I am feeling stressed out or worried.

  7. I remember birth dates of some of my friends in grade school and high school! One of them just passed (the date, not the friend) and I think of her every year on Sept. 9th although I have had no contact with her in over 50 years.

    I remember my grandparents' phone number from when I was small -- 6927, which was expanded to 6-6927 when our town grew.

    My high school German teacher required us to memorize a poem and I still remember the first (but only half of the second!) verse of it.

  8. I can remember random phone numbers, but can't remember my own. Also, I can remember some birthdays of old school chums that I haven't seen for years. the mind is a curious thing. Have a good week.

  9. The Highway pops into my head at the oddest times but I sure can't pull it out right now. Oh the joys of being a certain age!

  10. Oh, a second one. The Lyrics to Harvest Moon by Neil Young. I love the song, love the poetry. We are heading to Manitoulin Island to see the Harvest Moon come up over the lake in a couple of days. Won't that be lovely to "live" that song/poem?

  11. I also can recall my university id and my sin number and also the combination from a lock I used from grade 7 to 13. I remember being scared witless having to recite poems at school but it's a lost skill now.

  12. I remember the oddest things. My grandmother's phone number, an address from when we lived at Grand Forks air base. Of course my ss#, and sometimes I have to say that out loud to myself to remember the last four numbers which is what they always ask for. I can't recall, until I say the whole thing in my head! I've always told my kids that if I had to be put in jail, and got one phone call, I would not know a single phone number. :(

  13. The nativity from the Luke Gospel for our Christmas plays. "The breaking waves dashed high, on a stern and rock-bound coast", and "On the 18th of April in '75, hardly a man is yet alive, who remembers that famous day and year, and the midnight ride of Paul Revere."

  14. I got a kick out of reading all of your comments. Funny about the one phone number in jail! The mind really is a curious thing. I think we had to memorize a "speech" or exerpt from Shakespeare in highschool. Here's all I have: The quality of mercy is not strained. It droppeth like the (a?) gentle rain from (?) heaven. Ta Daaa!! -Jenn

  15. My worst class in high school and my best teacher was my English teacher Miss Long. We were required to memorize numerous poems and I still remember most of them. I don't believe we lose mental ability as we age it is just a faction of our hard drive becoming full which makes access more difficult.

    Yes I do believe that brains will be wired differently in future generations.
    the Ol'Buzzard

  16. I remember reciting peony at school, standing beside the desk to do so. None of this slouchy, do I have to do it stuff. Heh girls we all have to remember 100+ user names and passwords...oh and PINS. Ever forgot your four number pin at the bank machine with a line-up behind you?

  17. Replies
    1. Thanks. I like reading other blogs if the posts aren't too long. I get bored quite easily. Then write my own blog. It's a very mundane life I lead.

  18. The friendly cow
    All red and white
    I love with all my heart
    She gives me cream
    With all her might
    To eat with apple tart.

    The very first poem I learned, it was from a child's anthology of poetry. Can't recall who wrote it!