Years ago I watched an interview of Lou Holtz. At that time he was the football coach for Notre Dame. I remember during the interview he began reciting a poem from memory. After he finished the interviewer asked more questions. As Lou Holtz answered these questions he seamlessly inserted another poem from memory into the conversation. This pattern continued throughout the interview.
Lou Holtz’s style of conversation was elegant and mesmerizing. I had never considered how beautiful it would be to memorize poetry, and how nice it could be to add to normal, everyday conversation. In the past I had memorized Bible verses and had even managed to memorize the first chapter of James when I was in High School, however, somewhere along the way when I became an adult I had forgotten how special it is to actively commit words and phrases to memory.
Today, we literally hold the internet in our hands. We can ask Alexa what the weather will be like and in a matter of seconds she will respond and then wish us a nice day. While there is nothing wrong with this (because let’s be honest it’s awesome) I have noticed, personally, I fail to commit information to memory. So last year I made memorization a priority.
I memorized one of my favorite Latin phrases
(I know, incredibly useful in conversation):
☾ Astra inclinant sed non obligant
“The stars incline us, they do not bind us.”
This poem from The Lays of Ancient Rome:
Then out spake the brave Horatius,
The Captain of the Gate:
‘To every man upon this earth
Death cometh soon or late.
And how can man die better
Than facing fearful odds,
For the ashes of his fathers,
And the temples of his gods.”
And this phrase from William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream:
I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine.
Now, I enjoy memorization so much I carry a pocket size notebook with me with different phrases and poems I want to memorize. This year I plan to memorize lengthier poems and more Latin phrases. Even a few toasts to cheer with friends! Here are a few I have added to my “Memorize In 2020” list:
// Sonnet 18
A new Latin phrase:
aequam serva mentem, comprime linguam
“Keep a calm mind, restrain the tongue.” —J.R.R. Tolkien often penned this wise advice in his letters to his son, Christopher Tolkien, when he was a solider during WWII.
I’m sure I’ll add more throughout the year, but I think this is a good starting point!
Do you practice memorization? What do you have memorized?