You could be forgiven if, for the past few weeks you've been humming "Thriller" or "PYT" nonstop. After all, those pesky "earworms" that haunt us come from the radio and TV as well as from our stereos, and there's been a surfeit of Michael Jackson coverage in the broadcast media.
I seem to be particularly susceptible to earworms (maybe many of us OCD types in publishing are?). I wish I could get rid of today's "Waking Up in Vegas" earworm -- Katie Perry is not my usual cuppa! But as the chorus went round and round (Get up and shake the glitter off your clothes now) my mind jumped to what lyrics really are, and I started thinking about stanzas and refrains and verses...
Before I knew it, I was off on a little poetry tear in my head, reciting lines and stanzas that I do remember, wishing that there were a good Writer's Almanac podcast at the ready (unfortunately, I was in my car at the time and sans iPod, or I could have cued one up). I started "reciting" William Blake's beautiful and haunting poem "London:"
I wander through these chartered streets
Near where the chartered Thames doth flow
And in every stranger's face I meet
Marks of weakness, marks of woe.
I could not get these lines out of my head! Part of that is due to their sure iambic quadrameter (bum-BUM, bum-BUM, bum-BUM, bum-BUM) and straightforward A-B-A-B rhyme scheme, but part is also due to having learned and taught the poem many times over -- "chartered" means several things to me. So do the stranger's faces. Plus, I know more than a bit about William Blake (this isn't particularly scholarly, but if you haven't read Tracy Chevalier's "Burning Bright," you might enjoy its fictional Blake). I thought about the stanza all the way home, until I could get to my bookshelf and read the poem in its entirety.
Does anyone else get "literary earworms?" Poetry? First lines? Favorite passages?
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