But I've recently been thinking about the poems that I have memorized on purpose. Memorizing something is a way of living with it, and there were poems I wanted to have on hand. I memorized Edward Lear's "The Owl and the Pussy-Cat" in elementary school because a friend knew it -- her mom had taught it to her -- and I thought it was funny, and I liked those repetitions: "the moon, the moon." I still remember it. Quite honestly, it comes in very handy in those situations in which a fussy baby gets thrust at you, and I regret that I never fully mastered "The Quangle Wangle's Hat."
There are other poems that I memorized later. In college I read "After great pain a formal feeling comes" for the first time, found it brilliant, memorized it, and can recite it to this day. I memorized a few more Dickinson poems for my qualifying exam (lo these many years ago), and if my life depended on it I could probably squeeze them out, but it's "After great pain" that sticks. I must have memorized "A slumber did my spirit seal" in college too. Of course it's so short there's almost nothing to memorize, like "In a Station of the Metro" or "A White Hunter." Those I have too, but I don't count them.
More recently I memorized "Spring and Fall," in part because it was tricky to memorize:
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What héart héard of, ghóst guéssed
How's that for thumping?
Each person has different poems that sit in their pockets, on purpose or otherwise. It's funny that mine turn out to be by Edward Lear, Emily Dickinson, William Wordsworth, and Gerard Manley Hopkins. What are yours?
Perhaps I'll try to memorize "The Pangolin." That's the sort of poem one needs to have on hand.