I have been memorising poems recently. Or at least trying to anyway. I did it as a way of making my days go by faster — spending time trying to memorise poems instead of thinking of home makes army life that much more tolerable.
I borrowed poem anthologies from the library, not quite looking out for any particular genre or theme, but more hoping serendipity would do its work, and lead me to poems that might affect me in a way I would not understand, but appreciate.
I came across popular poems like If (by Rudyard Kipling) and The Road Not Taken (by Robert Frost), as well as less popular ones like Toilet (by Hugo Williams).
Four lines of Kipling’s If helped me in my Army Half-Marathon run:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”
Frost’s The Road Not Taken reminds me to take risk, to divert from the crowd, while Williams’ Toilet just made me smile.
Then there was a poem that came along that reminded me of a past love, R. This poem is by Christina Rossetti, entitled Remember:
Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.
You tell me of our future that you planned:
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.
The fact that the poem is about love lost (or about to) was not all the affected me. Another association that it brought about was that of the song, I Will Remember You, by Sarah McLachlan, which I had played countless times while deep in thought with R on my mind.
Oh, how I long to just forget her and smile.