I have in my hand a book. Unable to type with it in my hand, I set it down. It is called “Required Poems” subtitle “For Reading and Memorizing” “Third and Fourth Grades.” It runs about 200 pages and the more recent poems are copyright in the late 1890s. The book itself shows no print date nor copyright. Among the poems are works by RL Stevenson, Kipling, Riley, Longfellow, Whittier and de la Mare. Along with such giants as Bliss Carman, Phoebe Cary, Lucy Larcom and Oliver Herford.
Just a quick quiz, who remembers the poem “I Remember, I Remember”? Who wrote it? (No fair Googling quite yet).
Seasonal poems, poems with birds in them and heavily cadenced poems like sections of Hiawatha are often “Required.”
A personal note: My grandmother, bless her soul, often terrorized me by reciting with great drama Riley’s “Little Orphant Annie.“ Each time she came to the nearly stuttered halting stanza ending lines:
Er the Gobble-uns’ll git you
She would make a ghastly face and reach for me. My not yet luxuriant not yet flowing hair would stand on in. That is one poem lodged in my memory, tied to my deepest self by the barbed wires of fear.