I've always liked memorizing poems, and since memorizing 10 is on my life list, I figured I'd bring us on a guided tour through the ones I've already memorized, and how they've treated me through the years.
General Prologue from The Canterbury Tales (Geoffrey Chaucer)
Whan that Aprill, with his shoures soote
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote
And bathed every veyne in swich licour,
Of which vertu engendred is the flour;
Whan Zephirus eek with his sweete breeth
Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
Hath in the Ram his halfe cours yronne,
And smale foweles maken melodye,
(That slepen al the nyght with open eye)
So priketh hem Nature in hir corages
Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages
And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes
To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes;
And specially from every shires ende
Of Engelond, to Caunterbury they wende,
The hooly blisful martir for to seke
That hem hath holpen, whan that they were seeke.
During my sophomore year of college, I took a class on the history of the English language (see previous entry), and absolutely loved it. I was pretty terrible at the class itself - my professor noted that "Kristin clearly had a difficult time with the technical aspects of the class" (aka: all of it) in my evaluation - but I proved myself valiantly worthy of my grade because of my conference work, reading The Canterbury Tales. We read the general prologue in class, and memorizing it was a great pleasure. As lost as I am with Old English (and, despite knowing those few words I've memorized, I'm pretty darn lost), I love Middle English, and feel much more at home with it, entirely because of this project. Now, one of my life goals (perhaps after I finish reading all of Shakespeare's works) is to go see an original-pronunciation version of one of the plays.
Bonus part of why it is awesome that I know this poem - Sylvia Plath also memorized it, and I feel a deep connection because of that.