When Billy Collins was Poet Laureate he established Poetry 180 to encourage educators to read poetry to their students. I love this idea, and it has become part of my classroom routine; I always begin class by reading a poem aloud. I get poems from the web, from collections such as Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry, edited by Billy Collins, or from my collection of poetry volumes. Lately I've been reading from the Everyman's Library Pocket Poets volume Shakespeare.
On Wednesday the students thought they would play a joke on me during second block; they took my book and hid it on top of the projector for the Promethean board (about six inches from the ceiling). This was supposed to be amusing, since I stand at just barely 5' in my stocking feet.
I tried to recite Robert Frost's "Fire and Ice" from memory, but I couldn't remember the whole poem under stressful conditions (31 high school students laughing at me). One of my students tried to help me by reciting Sonnet 18 from memory (both of us got stuck right after the darling buds of May). Finally, one kid took pity on me and retrieved Shakepeare from his lofty perch. But now I am even more determined to have a few poems by heart. I can do "Fire and Ice" alone in the car, but the trick is to be able to call it up at any time. The poem is only nine lines -- surely I can do this!
"Fire and Ice"
Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.