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?