I have, over the years, memorized a few poems. Not because I sat down with that task (I am quite bad at that, ask my teachers) but through repetitive reading. Some are of course easier to remember due to their internal rhythm and the music they end up creating on the tongue. Certain styles suit themselves better and it goes without saying that those that rhyme tend to be the most memory friendly.

The first was The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe. I had a skinny, tattered trade paperback of his greatest works when I was 10, and kept it in my backpack at all times. It is not hyperbole to say that I read it until it fell apart into shreds, and I wonder what happened to all those bits that disintegrated along the way. I still remember most of it and have added a few since then. They tend to be by Robert Frost for many of the reasons I listed above. While this list includes “The Road Not Taken” and “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”, there is one I cherish more.

“Fire and Ice” is a well-known poem to many and considerably shorter than those two classics. It is only a scant 51 words, but to me, carries more meaning and insight into the human condition than whole volumes by other authors. It is witty, thoughtful, and beautiful, with a simple, yet satisfying, flow. For all these reasons and more it could belong in this collection of mine, not the least of which is that every time I read it, I get goosebumps at the end. There is a truth there that the body cannot help but react to.


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.


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