Memorizing An Octopus

How far did I get with memorizing An Octopus and was it worth it. I succeeded in memorizing An Octopus in one sense and failed in two senses.

I succeeded in that, having broken the poem up into parts, I was at one time capable of reciting each of those parts completely, though independently of each other. I failed in the sense that, I was never able to recite this pretty long poem without interruption from beginning to end; and in the sense that I did not retain it well. Six months after setting the project aside, I was surprised how little I could recall of any of the “parts”, except for the first, which I’d gone over many times.

Why did I try to memorize An Octopus: I had read somewhere lavish praise of it from John Ashbery.

Having invested so much on it was it worth it? Relative to much else I’d be doing, yes of course; relative to memorizing another long difficult poem, yes probably; in general, if the aim was to give myself a point of entry into the work of a challenging poet, I do believe I did that.

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