Time and Memory
I don't know how old I was when I memorized Robert Frost's "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening," though it was some time in elementary school. I don't remember when, but I remember the whole poem, even now, and I attribute that to two factors: (1) I liked the poem, then and now, and (2) the rhyme scheme sets up the stanzas so they follow easily. The lines have a rhythm that works for me, and it rolls along, "trippingly on the tongue" as it were.
Longfellow provides a similar example. Thanks to his:
Listen my children and you shall hearI'll always remember that the Revolution started "on the 18th of April in 75". ("Hardly a man is now alive / who remembers that famous day and year.")
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere
Music can work the same way. My generation grew up with Schoolhouse Rock on Saturday morning cartoons, and as a result I can still recite the Preamble to the Constitution, define conjunctions and predicates, and expound on interjections, long after I've forgotten many details of facts learned in school. I learned how a Bill becomes a Law, what the Melting Pot was, and much more.
To be, or not to be...
Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote...
What did you have to learn by heart? What helps you remember?
Years ago, when I was in high school and college, I babysat for a family with three little girls (well, only one when I started). And now the middle girl is claiming to be an adult, to be in Italy pursuing some advanced food-related degree, when I clearly remember her as this size:
What a strange thing time is.