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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Frost Memory Test

Acquainted with the night
The road less traveled
Mending wall
Death of the hired man
Gold Dust
The master speed
Fire and Ice
"A bird half wakened in the lunar moon"
"I'm going to blah blah blah ... you come too."
The Silken Tent
"He would declare and could himself believe / that the birds there in all the garden round"
The Oven Bird: "There is a singer everyone has heard..."
Stopping by woods on snowy evening
[The poem about mountain pools that suck up all the light and water]
"Out, out..."
[The poem about the guy wanting to buy all Frost's Christmas trees]
Two tramps wanting to cut his firewood for him "Two tramps in mud time"?
"The land was ours before we were the land's"
The way the crows / shook down on me / the dust of snow
Nature's first green is gold / Her hardest hue to hold / Her early leaf's a flower / but only so an hour, etc... [Nothing Gold can stay]
Other poem about the could who have lost a child, husband's insensitive reaction?
Poem about a guy who treats his workers with disrespect, almost gets killed

Ok. That's what I got for Frost in exactly 10 minutes. I didn't think of Frost much for a few days prior to this. I think I got the majority of the chestnuts, and a few more. I have either titles, the first line, or some other identifying info for 22 poems. These results are predictable. It is always easy to come up with about 10 poems for anyone, and then... what else?


Vance Maverick said...

I understand people who value recall highly, and see it as an essential of poetic value (from which may stem arguments that metrical verse is superior because more memorable, etc.). But I don't have that kind of recall, so I have to look elsewhere for the value of poetry that I "know" to some extent. What is it I retain of Frost, if I can't quote him or name many of the poems? There's the tone or attitude, close to the cynical conservatism of proverbs (was that your phrase? or did you quote it from somewhere), concentrated by a genuine verse ear.

Jonathan said...

So it would be interesting to try this with a poet I don't know as well, of whom i retain only a kind of penumbra of feeling, without many words or specific titles. Here I'm more interested in the workings of my own memory rather than with the poetry itself, so there's that. I'm sure I could come up with 50 WCW poems by memory in an hour, so I'm not too interested in the metrical verse argument.