Brad Leithauser: Why We Should Memorize

Core classes extensively explore poetry. Here is an essay on the topic of memorizing poetry – whether we should do it, and if so, why and how? An excerpt:

Anyone equipped with a smartphone—many of my friends would never step outdoors without one—commands a range of poetry that beggars anything the brain can store. Let’s say it’s a gorgeous afternoon in October. You’re walking through a park, and you wish to recall—but can’t quite summon—the opening lines of Keats’ “To Autumn.” With a quick tap-tap-tap, you have it on your screen. You’re back in the nineteenth century, but you’re also in the twenty-first, where machine memory regularly supplants and superannuates brain memory.

Find the full essay at

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