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Poemination: the antidote to idiocy

24 February 2014

5:10 PM

24 February 2014

5:10 PM

Do you know any poems off by heart? I don’t. When I was younger, I used to. My favourite poem to recite was Roald Dahl’s Veruca Salt, the little brute. Now I can barely remember snippets.

Few people take the time to learn poems by rote. Why would they? After all, it’s far easier just to google them. But our reliance on the internet has come with a price; we’ve relinquished the pleasure that comes with knowing something by heart. It takes time and effort saving something to memory, but, as my colleague Douglas Murray wrote a couple of years ago, it’s almost always worth it.


I propose a solution: in recent months, Facebook has been awash with ‘Neknominations‘ – an online drinking game in which, via video, participants drink a chosen amount of alcohol, before uploading the footage, and daring other people to do the same. Pointless, yes – but the inspiration behind Poemination, a game I invented five minutes ago. Similar principle, but with poems instead. Learn a ditty, a sonnet, an epic – whatever feels appropriate – then once you feel confident enough, film yourself reciting it, and post it on Facebook. At the end, you must nominate someone to learn another poem. Soon we will all be drunk on poetry.

Get Drunk
Charles Baudelaire

Always be drunk.
That’s it!
The great imperative!
In order not to feel
Time’s horrid fardel
bruise your shoulders,
grinding you into the earth,
Get drunk and stay that way.
On what?
On  wine, poetry, virtue, whatever.
But get drunk.
And if you sometimes happen to wake up
on the porches of a palace,
in the green grass of a ditch,
in the dismal loneliness of your own room,
your drunkenness gone or disappearing,
ask the wind,
the wave,
the star,
the bird,
the clock,
ask everything that flees,
everything that groans
or rolls
or sings,
everything that speaks,
ask what time it is;
and the wind,
the wave,
the star,
the bird,
the clock
will answer you:
‘Time to get drunk!
Don’t be martyred slaves of Time,
Get drunk!
Stay drunk!
On wine, virtue, poetry, whatever!’

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Show comments
  • La Fold

    So noe one else is going to say it? Okay then, looks like i’ll take one for the team.
    There once was a girl from Nantucket…

  • Kitty MLB

    A verse by a favourite poem of mine, by Milton – L’ Allegro. That I do remember
    and contains a beautiful old word:
    ‘here under the ebon shades and low brow’d rocks as ragged as thy locks
    in dark Cimmerian desert , they dwell but come though
    goddess fair and free Yclept Euphyrosyne’.

  • Ed LoveNest

    jack always had my back
    a good friend I’d rely on
    jack jack a friend I thought i could believe in
    he had my back indeed, he stuck it in

  • Kitty MLB

    I am unfortunately a dull soul, who would never have the gumption to
    have done this when younger or even now, and poetry is very personal.
    I am not too sure about the consumption of alcohol beforehand will it
    mean they forget their little offerings- but I suppose it will be on face book,
    and it may develop into a real interest, yet as well as goggling they must read a book.
    It may be an excellent idea if they were to quote some beautiful Latin
    poetry by such as Alighieri who was known as the supreme poet and indeed Chaucer.
    I also cannot remember all poetry off by heart, every word, but some
    by my favourites such as Shelley and Wordsworth which I read most days,
    cannot abide Blake, too depressing ( especially the sick rose ) and I advice no one to read him especially whilst under
    the influence of alcohol.