Saturday, April 22, 2006

Horatius at the Bridge

Reflecting on Ms. Mcclaren (the subject of my last blog) brings to mind a Junior High Project that my chess playing friend (he later completed an engineering PH.D. at Princeton and became research director of Bell Labs) undertook. We memorized the poem Horatious at the bridge (on of Thomas Babbington McCauley's "Lays of Ancient Rome" in its entirety. We were encouraged in poetry memorization by my father, for whom poetry memorization had been a school and parental requement.

The poem is quite long. It must take 30 minutes or more to recite. My friend and I walked to school for a number of weeks together. Each day we would recite as much as we had learned, one or more times and add a new verse. We stuck with the project and, in due course, achieved our goal. This feat of memory became a topic of discussion among students and teachers at Port Washington Junior high.

No good deed goes unpunshed. Having accomplished our goal, we now sought audiences to showcase our accomplishment. Parents and teachers felt they had to acquiesce. We recited the entire poem to our English class and exerpts not only at a Junior High assemmbly but at a high school assembly. There was an article in the school newspaper. And our poor parents felt they had to showcase our accomplshments at dinner parties and family gatherings. I am sure no one was more delighted than they, when we lost interest.

"Lars Porsena of Clusium, by the nine gods he swore
that the great house of Tarkquin would suffer wrong no more
by the nine gods he swore it, and named a trysting day
and bade his messengers ride forth, east and west and south and north
so summon his array."

I don't remember the entire poem, by much of it still remains.
If you would like a recitation, just let me know.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would love to hear the whole poem! I looked everywhere online for it, and couldn't come up with anything.
Any suggestions at where to come up with "Horatious" in its entirety?
Please email!

12:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you considered making a recording and offering the whole thing as a podcast. I'd love to listen to you recite the poem.

5:57 AM  
Blogger Cole said...

I recently decided to memorize a part of it for a school project (senior english). Here is the link I found that has what you may be looking for (I hope there are no rules about posting links here):

9:08 AM  

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