Appalachia children

Reciting Poetry


Ruby Sue

As I sat in the back row in second grade, I enjoyed every learning experience. Two of my favorites were learning about seasons and my first introduction to poetry. I will always recall my first little poem we learned.

I had a little doggie who used to sit and beg
But doggie tumbled down the steps and broke his little leg.
Oh doggie, I will nurse you and try to make you well,
and you shall have a collar too and a little silver bell.


I don’t recall ever learning to recite poetry in school, but Granny did. Like PinnacleCreek, all these years later Granny can still recite poems she learned in school and some are quite long.

When I was a young girl and Granny started in reciting a poem I’d cringe with embarrassment and roll my eyes, but today I think its pretty dadgum cool that she remembers every word of those old beautiful poems from her childhood days.


Subscribe for FREE and get a daily dose of Appalachia in your inbox

You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    August 24, 2018 at 9:17 pm

    Tipper–I’m so late probably few will read this, but some of my fondest educational memories are associated with poetry. I don’t care for a goodly amount of it, but give me a rollicking poem that rhymes and tells a tale or some meaningful symbolism and I’m mighty happy indeed. For manly adventure or thrills there are the likes of Robert Service “The Cremation of Sam McGee” is a favorite) and the incomparable Rudyard Kipling. For purely scary stuff in poetry as well as prose there’s the tortured genius of Edgar Allan Poe or Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Surely your offspring and indeed anyone who loves the mountains and the fiddle can identify for Stephen Vincent Benet’s “The Mountain Whippoorwill.” Throw in some of the wonderful verses of the English Romantics such as Keats, Shelley, and Wordsworth, and my mind can indeed wander “lonely as a cloud.” I’m right there with the magnificent folly of Tennyson’s “Charge of the Light Brigade” and the poignancy of another war-inspired poem, “In Flanders Fields.

    I’ve dabbled (most unsuccessfully, I might add) with poetry, and so has Br’er Don. One literary device I use a lot comes from the rhythm of poetry and that’s using internal rhyme in narrative material. It gives me an ample measure of personal pleasure, and I blessed be unstressed when some reader thinks it a tiny bit of treasure.

    I would also add, as various commentators have hinted in one way or another, that most songs, especially great ones, are pure poetry.

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    August 24, 2018 at 7:26 pm

    I agree with Ed! Poe’s stories aren’t for sissies! And the book mentioned by Ron Stephens, One Hundred Best Loved Poems, is back in print now! It really is excellent. Memorizing poems and other things is important for young children. Scientists have recently discovered that memorizing poetry helps develop math skills!!! Who knew? Super picture of Ruby Sue, and I love the dog poem, Tipper.

  • Reply
    Jane Bolden
    August 24, 2018 at 4:43 pm

    My mother was born in 1918. She and her friends were sitting around her dining room table having lunch during the Christmas season. They were quoting poetry they were were required to memorize at school. I was so impressed and also envious.

  • Reply
    August 24, 2018 at 4:09 pm

    As I was listening to others remembrances, one poem that is still stored in the attic of my mind is ” The Tree” …

    ” I think that I shall never see ,a poem as lovely as a tree …. ” I was always drawing pictures of trees in art so I guess I didn’t mind learning that one. I do think a song about something can be remembered long. With my grandchildren, whatever we were doing …. being rocked to sleep, swinging , playing in the snow, drinking a glass of milk , we’d make up a song as we did it….every one of them still sing those spur of the moment songs still. Sweetly savored reminiscing..we also watched musicals ,like Sound Of Music, or Seven Brides For Seven Brothers,or Calamity Jane… we know every song by heart…. and who can forget Roy Rogers and Dale Evans ”Happy Trails ”song. Our Mama liked to sing ,listen to the radio, and play the guitar,,,so we learned a lot of songs 🙂 .. thankful 🙂

  • Reply
    August 24, 2018 at 12:15 pm

    Well Tipper, we didnt do many poems, it was mostly rhyems. 10 little monkeys jumping on a bed, 1 fell off and bump his head. Moma call the doctor, doctor said no more monkeys jumping on the bed. 9 , 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and then moma said no more monkeys jumping on bed.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    August 24, 2018 at 11:53 am

    I’m not a fan of most Poetry but I do read some. My mama wrote a small paper-backed book of Poems from her Childhood. (Seems like I gave You one a few years ago.) I don’t remember much as I did several years ago, but she always had a wonderful memory. We had a portable typewriter, but she couldn’t type due to her being paralyzed in her left side. So, she got someone in the publishing business to type her memories for her and put them in a little booklet. I thank God for my Mama. …Ken

  • Reply
    August 24, 2018 at 10:48 am

    When we were kids we were reciting poetry – starting with nursery rhymes – from before we could read, and then in school as well. In 2nd grade, I received a little book of nursery rhymes as a prize for reciting – probably still have that somewhere 🙂 And writing poems and songs…as long as I can remember. In really “olden times” I believe there was less of a distinction between singing and reciting, maybe because in oral cultures, singing was an easier way to remember. And it still work…for example, the only reason I remember the date of the Battle of New Orleans is Johnny Horton’s song!

  • Reply
    charles Howell
    August 24, 2018 at 10:29 am

    As I was walking through the wood
    I spied a Pig and that was good
    He had an Acorn in his mouth
    His tail went North
    East went his Snout

    It was plain, he could not see
    Lucky Pig says I to Me

    • Reply
      August 24, 2018 at 10:59 am

      Charles-Love it 🙂

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    August 24, 2018 at 10:16 am

    We had to memorize a poem in the seventh or eighth grade. Most of the kids chose a little five line, limerick like, poem. I, thinking it had to be a real poem, chose “The Village Blacksmith”.
    I am not a lover of poetry but there are poems I like to read and recite. I don’t have books of poems but I wish I had just one. A book of the poetry in my life, written both by poets of old and my own.

    Turning, Churning sailed the ship
    Up and down the Missipp.
    Passing towns along the way
    Hauling crops of corn and hay.

    I wrote that when I was in grade school. That’s all I can remember of it, there was more. Looking at it now it seems childish but it got me an “A” in the class.

    • Reply
      August 24, 2018 at 10:59 am

      Ed-doesn’t sound childish to me-I think it sounds great! Try to remember the rest and share it all with us 🙂

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    August 24, 2018 at 9:54 am

    The Owl and the Pussycat–like Granny I still remember some of it. The Gettysburg Address, Preamble to the Constitution and many others!

  • Reply
    August 24, 2018 at 9:40 am

    Oh the memorization! Mom had to memorize all the counties in WV as a child. Later in years after her memory started failing she would impress her nurses with her total recall of the counties, and the could ramble them off. I made it a special point to do the same. There was a lot of structure to the old way of teaching.
    We were also taught how to know how many days were in each month by using our knuckles and the indentations to show the even and odd months. It came in extremely handy in later years when I had to figure up recertification date on Home patients. School was extremely interesting back then, but they didn’t stress social adjustment, social issues nor waste time on much except readin’ writin’ and ‘rithmatic. Nobody gave a diagnosis to children who didn’t sit quietly, a paddling would follow misbehavior. Every day was started with prayer and the pledge. We lined up for all the shots, and nobody cried. When I became too hyper in class they did not suggest medicine, but instead sent a note home to my parents. My uncle picked me up from second grade, read the note, and said, “Boy, are you in trouble!” After they read the note to me I was embarrassed and tried to modify my behavior after that. That was the good ole days, or was it?

    • Reply
      aw griff
      August 24, 2018 at 1:41 pm

      PINNACLECREEK, I wasn’t familiar with using your knuckles but my wife was. I learned them this way. 30 days have sept. april, june and nov. all the rest have 31 except feb, alone which have 8 and a score till leap year giveth one day more.

  • Reply
    August 24, 2018 at 9:12 am

    My mother and I (many years later) had the same eighth grade English teacher. She required everyone to memorize the Gettysburg address, the preamble to the constitution, and 1000 lines of poetry of our choosing. We had to recite at her desk . She kept count of the lines in a notebook. Teachers would never have time to do that today.

  • Reply
    aw griff
    August 24, 2018 at 9:02 am

    I remember many of the common nursery rhymes from elementary school but my favorites were tongue twisters. I guess everbody knows Peter Piper but what about the skunk and the stump? The skunk sat on a stump and the skunk said the stump stunk and the stump said the skunk stunk.

    • Reply
      August 24, 2018 at 11:00 am

      AW-I’ve never heard of the skunk and the stump, I’m so glad you shared it 🙂

      • Reply
        August 24, 2018 at 11:28 am

        My version is: The skunk sat on the stump. The skunk thunk the stump stunk, the stump thunk the skunk stunk.

        • Reply
          aw griff
          August 24, 2018 at 8:51 pm

          Jackie, Whew that is really a mouthful.

  • Reply
    August 24, 2018 at 8:46 am

    My mom is 96 and her short-term memory is pretty bad. But, she can still recite without pause the Gettysburg address that she learned in 3rd grade and sing just about every song that was on the radio in the 30’s and 40’s. She could probably match any pastor with memorized Bible verses. All of which my sister and I gladly listen to 2-3 times every time we visit her every other day. ;)))
    Tipper, my 15 yo granddaughter and I love your blog. Thank you!

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    August 24, 2018 at 8:14 am

    I do not recall having to learn poetry in school. But my Mom evidently did. She could recite parts, maybe all, of “Paul Revere’s Ride”, “The Song of Hiawatha”, “The One Hoss Shay” and another about a hired man that “way down deep in the pasture lot, he showed us a hole that the wunzes got”. We had a book entitled – if memory serves – “One Hundred Best-Loved Poems” that I’m sure she was responsible, directly or indirectly, with us having. She imprinted all three of us to be readers. Even Dad became one because of her, though he never had a great deal of patience for reading much at a single sitting.

  • Reply
    Don Byers
    August 24, 2018 at 7:35 am

    I enjoyed my English literature class in high school as I had been writing songs since I was very young. Our teacher, Mrs. Sarah Nell Patterson, gave the class an assignment……everyone had to write a poem. A couple of days after we turned them in, she told us she would read one of the student’s poems at the end of the class. I was very timid about my writing and I thought, “She better NOT read mine…..she did. After she read my poem, she gave a description of the writer’s personality according to the poem. Oh, no! It fit my innermost feelings which I carefully kept hidden. What if she identifies me??? She didn’t, but she always gave me a special smile after that.
    Many years later I was in Great Britain performing and visited Shakespeare’s and Robbie Burns” birthplace and the Masonic Lodge that Burns was Master of. Later my wife and I went there and made photos of these places. I made up a booklet of those photos and took to Ms. Patterson who was in a nursing home at Blairsville. She looked at the photos, then looked up at me with a big smile and said, “So you have travelled! That is good!”
    I am very grateful to Ms. Patterson for nurturing my love of writing. I’ll bet everyone who attended Ms. Patterson’s class at Union County High School can still recite Flander’s Field. That was required in order to get a passing grade.

  • Reply
    Cindy Pressley
    August 24, 2018 at 7:24 am

    I don’t recall any poetry in grammar school but in the 6th grade Our teacher made every student memorize I Corinthians 13 and recite it for the class. I doubt if the law would allow that now.
    That’s a very nice portrait of Ruby Sue! She’s looking very thoughtful.

  • Reply
    Sheryl A. Paul
    August 24, 2018 at 6:18 am

    I remember my grandfather wanting me to memorize poems. The first one was There are Fairies at the Bottom of the Garden, from A Childs Book of Verses. I loved that book and read it until it was frayed and worn.

  • Reply
    August 24, 2018 at 5:55 am

    Our English Teacher loved Shakespeare, I hated it, I didn’t see the purpose in it, reading, and writing I can see, but reciting something like Shakespeare was beyond me, I refused to do it, and took an ” F ” that six weeks, still to this day I don’t regret it, but I still had to sit and listen, that’s 6 weeks out of my life I’ll never get back. Then there was the ” Term Paper” took all year to complete your Senior year, had to hand in the rough draft 1st semester, then the complete draft 2 semester and counted as 50% of your grade each, and guess what it was about? Edgar Allan Poe, dude wrote poetry and short stories, boring stuff, why couldn’t I have writing about Zane Grey, or Louis L’Amour, something that a Boy would be interested in. I would have gotten a lot more out of it if I had. I don’t remember any of it because I wasn’t interested in Ole Edgar or Williams stuff.

    • Reply
      Ed Ammons
      August 24, 2018 at 9:44 am

      You found the story of someone killing, dismembering and hiding the pieces of an old man boring? “The Tell Tale Heart” makes the stories of Grey and L’Amour seem like a pony ride!

      • Reply
        August 24, 2018 at 6:45 pm

        That’s your opinion, not mine.

      • Reply
        August 24, 2018 at 7:43 pm

        Probable wouldn’t be boring if I was into Jeffrey Dahmer, Ted Bundy kinda stuff.

    Leave a Reply