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Committed to Memory

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  106 ratings  ·  19 reviews
"Committed to Memory" is a collection of a hundred-and-some poems chosen specifically for memorization and for the particularly intense kind of silent reading with which a reader prepares to remember them. The poems, which embrace a wide variety of genres, structures and patterns, include old favorites and forgotteen gems. Careful choices were made for the pleasure and rew ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published November 1st 1997 by Riverhead Trade (first published October 1996)
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What I like about this book is its emphasis on reading poetry with the correct itonation. Then again, I read Hollander's Sound and Sense, so he really believes in sound being a big part of poetic form.

Anyway, this particular collection is divided into five categories (ranging from "Sonnets" to "Songs" to "Meditations") and include both well-known poets (from Shakespeare to Tennyson to Dickinson to Whitman) and less well-known ones. The focus is on poems that are short enough to memorize (hence
This is a great collection of poems, a lot of them well-known but also some I had never heard/read before. It has great variety, different types of poetry and a wide range of poets.
Some fine, solid poems here, several of which I would indeed like to commit to memory. (For those who complain about the solemnity of the poetry, remember it is a significant and complicated art form providing important political and historical commentary, not just a bunch of rhyming words!)
This physically handsome book has an excellent concept: a selection of poems that are not just wonderful to read, but also ideal for memorization. While some of the memorization is too difficult -- like other reviewers, I think Frost offers better candidates for memorization than "Mending Wall" -- other poems are well suited to committing to memory, like cummings' "anyone lived in a pretty how town;" Hopkins' "Spring and Fall;" and, yes, Lear's "The Owl and the Pussycat." The acts of memorizatio ...more
I think I'm a poetry plebian. It seems like the poetry I like most is that which is most appealing to the general public. I like the stuff that has a strong meter, is easy to memorize, and expresses an idea in an out-of-the-ordinary but easy-to-appreciate kind of way. So, this collection was right up my alley. I didn't read it all, but what I did read, I enjoyed. I particularly loved the first piece, simply titled "Sonnet." To me, it encapsulated in a beautiful way two of my favorite things: flo ...more
Someday, I am going to put together a book like this only MUCH MUCH BETTER. I memorize a lot of poetry, and this book was a dud - lots of classics, but few of them poems one (I) would want to memorize. There are several schools of thought on memorizing poetry - there's what one "should" memorize (HI, western canon), what is "easy" to memorize, and then there's what one might want to memorize because it's amazing. A good book would blend all of these aspects far better than this one does.
My poetry project has me reading more poems; I need to read poetry to know what I want to memorize. This has some great suggestions, including "The New Colossus" by Emma Lazarus. Most people only know the final few lines of this sonnet: "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddle masses yearning to breathe free." It also includes "Casey at the Bat" and other gems, as well as some more obscure ones.
R. C.
I just kept thinking, "WHY?" as I was browsing these selections. Why would I want to have THAT poem in my head forever? Sure, these poems are well-known, popular, important, but also they are largely gruesome, depressing, and outmoded. I don't have so much brainspace free that I can afford to put that sort of thing in here alongside the happy classic poems of my culture.
This is a nice collection of poems. I don't think every one is for everyone-- it's sort of a weird and electic collection, and it would have been nice had Hollander shared his criteria for collection-- but as a whole it's a fun little read. I'd get it out of the library rather than purchasing it, though. NB: most of the poems are best read aloud.
Margit Sage
Some good poems; some I didn't really care for. I wrote down the names of some poets I'd like to further read. I've never studied poetry, but one of the books I recently read on writing suggested reading it, and I agree it's a good idea, since I like lyrical rhythmic prose and alliteration.
This is a really nice introduction to poetry for the true beginner. The poems are reasonably diverse, accessible and familiar enough to not be scarily deeeeeeeeeep and meeeeeeeeeaningful. Some of them are good for memorizing but not all. Viewer discretion is advised. But all are worth reading.
Krista C
The poems are nice and it is wonderful to find a collection that is chosen for its recitative beauty, but I found it to be a pretty stagnant collection with little to offer outside of the standard white, western canon. It left me a little restless, even as I enjoyed the poems it does offer.
Jessica McCauley
Sorry...but I simply do not agree with the choices of poems worth committing to memory. If I wish something to live inside my head and heart, I'd want it to at least be encouraging, challenging, uplifting or even cautionary. The choices here are not my cup of tea...
An excellent collection of poems short enough to memorize, flawed only by an attempt to give equal space to different poet forms. The collection of poems in the last section, classified as "meditations," far overshadows the earlier parts of the book.
The only one I have actually committed to memory is At The Round Earth's Imagined Corners, but this is a nice collection of poetry. It really is good stuff to read aloud - and a good beginning collection for someone who wants to learn to like poetry.
Jackie Rose
I love this book! I grabbed it on my way out to sit on the porch with a cup of tea and ended up sitting there for a while, reading poems from this book out loud to myself.

I read poetry frequently and found this to be a great collection. Enjoy!
Some good names, some a little too well used. For Shakespeare and Hopkins, I would have picked other poems. Good Tennyson. Still a good read for those looking to expand their personal index of classical poetry.
A great collection and way to get started into poetry. Yes, some of the poems are abridged. Yes, there is better poetry. However, for what this book is, it is a fairly excellent selection of poetry. Recommend.
Tina Bembry
Very disappointing. It features mainly chopped versions of poems - not entire pieces - and includes many for no reason I could see. I'm not quite sure who would like this book...
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