When Students Recite Poetry

This week and last week, the students in my British literature class memorized poetry. As I held office hours on the ground floor of Moody Library, I had the privilege to see many of them pacing Harvey Garden, poems in hand, preparing to recite some of the most brilliant expressions in the English language. Here are some of my favorite lines from the poems they selected:

What mighty contests rise from trivial things. -Alexander Pope, “The Rape of the Lock”

The also serve who only stand and wait.  -John Milton, “On His Blindness”

 What I do is me. -Gerard Manley Hopkins, “As Kingfishers Catch Fire”

 I have measured out my life with coffee spoons. -T.S. Eliot, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”


Given that Baylor is home to the Armstrong Browning Library, I encouraged my students to memorize Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s sonnet, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways,” and many of them did. These are my favorite lines from that poem:

I love thee with a passion put to use / In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.

About halfway through the semester, we took a class trip to the Browning library, which holds the largest collection of Browning material. Since my dissertation focuses on American literature, I have not used the library for my own research; however, in my role as a Graduate Writing Consultant, I’ve become familiar with the library’s holdings, as I recently helped my friend and fellow Lilly Graduate Fellow, Karl, with his proposal to be a Teaching Fellow there this summer. This week, the announcement was released, and I was happy to see that he received the fellowship.


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