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“There once was a man from Nantucket…”

Yes. A thousand times, yes: Matthew Schneier reminds us that Now Is the Perfect Time to Memorize a Poem—because “it’s a good exercise, in the midst of chaos, to give yourself over to a sound and a rhythm that is not your own.”

As Schneier explains, you feel poems differently when you learn them by heart and recite them aloud. They end up following you—whether you want them to or not.

I can attest. Years after taking English Lit in college, I can still recite most (if not all) of at least one Shakespeare sonnet and quatrains from several others.

But while it’s certainly fun to amaze your friends with a line or two from The Waste Land, there’s actually a practical reason to commit verse to memory: It just might save your life. (If you find yourself in the neighborhood, buy me a drink and I’ll explain.)



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