One of my grandsons was showing me his course of study for grade 6 students and something occurred to me - what memory work were they expected to learn, thus my question to him "how many poems do you have to learn off by heart, Kevin?"
I was disheartened to learn that they weren't expected to learn anything like a poem from memory. Boy, but how times have changed from the days when we were expected to know several poems and were sometimes asked on an examination paper to "write from memory" a given selection.
It was not at all uncommon to be told to learn a poem and our teacher would ask a student to start repeating a chosen work and then after a few lines would point to another student to "continue from there" and if we didn't know the next lines it meant additional homework for us. Not only were we expected to recite given lines but were also called upon to explain what the poet was attempting to get across.
I well remember my favorite poem which one could be expecting to hear in the fall of the year called "Indian Summer" by Wilfred Campbell
It went as follows:
Along the line of smoky hills
The crimson forest stands,
And all the day the blue jay calls
Throughout the autumn lands.
Now by the brook the maple leans
With all his glory spread,
And all the sumacs on the hills
Have turned their green to red.
Now by some forest wrapped in mist,
Or past some river's mouth,
Throughout the; long still autumn day
Wild birds are flying south.
I have to wonder, has the challenge of learning beauty from memory been cast aside like so many other things we enjoyed?