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.
Always be drunk.
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 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,
ask everything that flees,
everything that groans
everything that speaks,
ask what time it is;
and the wind,
will answer you:
‘Time to get drunk!
Don’t be martyred slaves of Time,
On wine, virtue, poetry, whatever!’