National Poetry Month is coming to a close in only a few days. The quote above is from the1989 movie Dead Poet's Society starring Robin Williams as a teacher at a boys' prep school. His subject is poetry. Read a review here. There are several places where you can find the movie online. Use your favorite search engine if you would like to view the film for the first time, or perhaps see it once again.
I think a teacher has a lot to do with our love or dislike of poetry. Note that I chose not to use the word hate, although there are probably plenty of high school students who might select that word over dislike. I must admit that I was not overly enthralled with poetry in high school. I didn't dislike it nor did I go ga-ga over it. There were some poems we read that I liked better than others. And yes, we did have to memorize some of them. I especially remember committing these poems to memory:
- Sea Fever by John Masefield
- Portia's mercy speech in The Merchant of Venice by Shakespeare
- The Destruction of Sennacharib by Lord Byron
Thinking back, I memorized all three poems in Sophomore English. I do not remember the teacher's name but I can visualize her--a 60ish, strait-laced, severe hairstyle, no make-up, no-nonsense woman who rarely smiled. I must commend her for introducing me to poetry that stayed with me all these years. No, I could not recite each of them from memory now but I do remember the opening lines of each one. She apparently did something in her teaching of this poetry that spoke to me and, hopefully, to many other students.
Another poem I remember from that class is The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. It's a very lengthy narrative poem but one verse has always stayed with me:
Water, water, every where,