When I was in 8th grade at Henrietta Barnett Grammar School for Girls in Hampstead Garden Suburb, London back in 1965, our Latin teacher, Miss Hickling, if I remember right, told us we could do no better than to memorize poetry, in Latin, in English, in French, but memorized. She said that during the blitz, and other London bombings in WWII, poetry was what sustained them, and in the dark, only memorized poetry, recited aloud, was any use. She apparently spent days camped out in the subway tunnels. Janet, Linda, Mickey and I were young and compliant enough to just make this another competition, and learned poetry, Shakespeare, Blake, Milton, Marvel, Baudelaire, Rimbaud, and many others, chanting them singsong like with no clue as to most of their meanings.
I haven’t had to live through a blitz, or the aftermath, which certainly contributed to the spinsterhood of my teachers (as they put it), but poetry is still important. We have Billy Collins on the back of the downstairs toilet where others might have the UTNE reader, or Orion. I really love his whimsical, melancholy poetry. I haven’t explored Houston poetry and I should. Sometimes I feel a poem welling up, but I usually am able to suppress them. Here’s one that came out, a poem I wrote in Haiku verses inspired by Lake Charlotte.
Paddle, drip, paddle