I have very little poetry memorized. It turns out that loving something and being able to memorize it are, for me, two separate skills. Because, in general, I like Ahkmatova better than Pushkin, but I don’t know any Ahkmatova by heart.
Here’s what I know of Pushkin by heart:
The less you love her when you woo her
The more you draw a woman in.
And thus more surely do undo her
Within the witching webs you spin.
That’s from a translation Southern Illinois University Press put out a million years ago. It’s a good one because it gets across the relentless da-dum, da-dum, da-dum, da-dum of Pushkin’s poetry and also the beauty of it.
But here’s what I realized just now–the other bit of poetry I have memorized? Also a series of relentless da-dums.
The night is young and full of rest
I can’t describe the way she’s dressed
She’ll pander to some strange request
Anything that you suggest
Anything to please her guest.
Is Jim Morrison our Alexander Pushkin? Should we all spend our lunch hour writing poems of relentless da-dumming?
I don’t have the answers to these questions, I’m afraid.