The only poem I’ve ever memorized

Juke Box Love Song
Langston Hughes

I could take the Harlem night
and wrap around you,
Take the neon lights and make a crown,
Take the Lenox Avenue busses,
Taxis, subways,
And for your love song tone their rumble down.
Take Harlem’s heartbeat,
Make a drumbeat,
Put it on a record, let it whirl,
And while we listen to it play,
Dance with you till day–
Dance with you, my sweet brown Harlem girl.

I studied Langston Hughes my junior year of high school. We each had to pick an American author to read for the year and I chose Hughes, partially because of this poem, partially because he was black, and partially because I knew that it would be easy to read the majority of his works because poetry goes down more quickly than prose. I was a lazy high school student.

I enjoyed reading Langston Hughes much more than I thought I would and so I will always be thankful for Mrs. Pirose and that year-long assignment. Though Mrs. Pirose and I didn’t get along. I ended up transferring out of her class three-quarters of the way through. Still, there was some good with the bad.

I am embarking on a new project. Each month, I will choose a poem to commit to memory. I think someone famous like Winston Churchill said that if you have memorized good poems, you will always have good company. On my bike rides back and forth to school, I have ample time to declaim to myself. Check back at the end of the month to see how I did with this month’s selection.

One thought on “The only poem I’ve ever memorized”

  1. This is very interesting. I am not sure I have the skill of memorization any more. It is sort of a lost art. Mr. Farnsworth, my 6th grade teacher, made us memorize a poem a month. We HATED it…but he was in good company if Churchill thought it was good, too! Can't wait to see how this progresses. -S

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