Updated on 07.12.10

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Memorizing Poetry Edition

Trent Hamm

All through my life, I’ve spent time memorizing various poems. The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost. anyone lived in a pretty how town by e. e. cummings. Pioneers! O Pioneers! by Walt Whitman (probably my favorite).

I like the way the sounds roll off the tongue and paint pictures. I like reciting them (or pieces of them) to my children. I like the flavor of the words.

How to Adopt an Attitude of Gratitude Lately, I’ve been focused on seeing the good in every situation. There are many situations where it’s easy, but if you look deeply, there is good in every situation. (@ dumb little man)

Wants that Morph Into Needs This is lifestyle inflation and it’s one of the most dangerous opponents people have to building a sustainable free life. (@ personal finance advice)

See The Impact When You Donate To Charity I think the big reason that many people struggle with charitable giving is that it feels like a “give and see nothing in return” exchange. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting to see what your money is going for. (@ christianpf)

I’m So Judgmental. I Want to Conquer This! Any Suggestions? Everyone has their own path. You can’t fairly judge others by the path you’re on. It’s like comparing a track sprinter’s times to that of a cross-country skiier. (@ happiness project)

It’s So Easy to Talk About Lunch I love this. If you want someone to talk, give them something very easy to talk about. Seth suggests talking about what to have for lunch, because everyone has an opinion. (@ seth godin)

Ask Unclutterer: Encouraging kids to help out at home My technique is to do it in very small timed batches. Our kitchen clock has a countdown timer, so we’ll designate a very specific task – “Pick up the Lincoln logs!” – with a very specific time frame – “Can we get it done in five minutes!?” – and then set the timer. The immediate focus and the short term really helps our kids (ages four and two) to take care of their stuff. (@ unclutterer)

Loading Disqus Comments ...
Loading Facebook Comments ...
  1. Kevin says:

    It appears you missed the point of the Seth Godin piece, which in fact is a mild rant about people being willing to speak up about trivial matters (like lunch) but timid when it comes to things that matter.

  2. Another Elizabeth says:

    That’s awesome, Trent! Keep reciting to your kids – my dad always did and to this day when I take my daughter to visit my parents, I ask him to recite our old favorites. I’ve started reciting poetry to her, too. I also like “The Road not Taken”, as well as the soliloquy on “Mercy” from the Merchant of Venice, and Kipling’s “If” and (also Kipling) “The Gods of the Copybook Headings”. There are a lot more on our favorites list, too. Our family’s favorite poetry book is “101 Famous Poems” compiled by Roy Cook. It also has a few exceptionally great pieces of non-poetic literature in the back.

  3. elise says:

    Any suggestions on how you go about memorizing?

  4. Johanna says:

    There’s nothing wrong, per se, with wanting to see the impact of your donations to charity – as long as you realize that the most visible charity projects are not necessarily the most important ones. And that the people who work for the charity full-time are probably in a better position than you are to determine which projects are most important.

    There’s an excelleng blog called “Good Intentions Are Not Enough” that details some of the things that can go wrong when donors start thinking that it’s all about them. In one post, called “Making Merit,” the blogger says, “It is much more appealing to donors to fund the construction of a museum or a school than it is to pay for the janitor’s salary and repair bills to maintain the building…When was the last time you saw a building or park named after the donor that paid the janitor’s salary?” But the janitor’s salary and the repair bills are important.

    It seems to me that the point of the ChristianPF article is that you should follow up on your donation in order to learn what the organization needs most. To which I would add: Be prepared to learn that what the organization needs most is different from what you’re most interested in giving.

  5. Dorothy says:

    Don’t overthink the “kids helping out” thing.

    First, if a child is old enough to get something (like a toy) out, she is old enough to put it away, period. When “put away” time comes, she puts her belongings away if she wants to keep them. Period.

    Second, don’t pose this notion as the child “helping” the parent. In a family each of us has responsibilities we shoulder to make the household run smoothly. Children who are not given their place in the household — for whom everything is done and who have no responsibilities — become alienated. You’re doing your children a favor to teach them how to do their part in the home.

    Third, leverage your child’s desire to be with you and to emulate you.

  6. Gal @ Equally Happy says:

    Hey Trent, ever read Dylan Thomas’ Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night? It’s one of my favorite inspirations when things look a bit bleak.

  7. marta says:

    I agree with Kevin. You really missed the point.

    “If I want your opinion, I’m going to want it for something where you might be wrong, for something that actually makes a difference and most of all, for something where you are putting yourself at risk. Not lunch.”

  8. Emily says:

    I liked that the article “See the Impact When You Donate to Charity” pointed out that your money may very well go to overhead, and that it did _not_ attach any negative comments to that fact. Organizations often need to spend money in this way to best fulfill their missions.

    The article and Johanna are absolutely right: a lot of the time, nonprofits’ needs are neither obvious nor “shiny” to the donating public.

    I love the message that you should not only ask what’s needed, but listen to and accept the answer.

  9. Becky says:

    Wow Trent, as much as I love it when an apropos verse or two of poetry comes to my mind, I had not thought of how fun it would be to memorize poems just to have them in my mind. The only poem I’ve ever memorized of my own accord is “Jabberwocky,” because my aunt told me when I was very young that every civilized person did, and I believed her.

    I’m starting today! I have my new poem all picked out – Mary Oliver’s “Wild Geese.”


  10. Stacey says:

    I have a great book of poetry to recommend to you: Home From the Field, Leo Dangel, a former farmer/professor from southwest minnesota. My current favorite book of poetry :)

  11. Sarah says:

    In the “It’s so Easy to Talk About Lunch” article, Seth isn’t suggesting you ask people about lunch. He’s saying the opposite–that talking about things you can’t be wrong about is pretty useless. He’s saying that the things worth talking about are inherently risky. That opinions worth having are opinions that could be wrong. It’s impossible to be wrong about lunch.

  12. Shannon says:

    Trent, do you even read the articles you link to?? Because, like many others have pointed, you have got the point of Seth Godin’s article completely wrong.

  13. Interested Reader says:

    Trent, maybe you should get someone to act as a proofreader for your posts.

    Your comments about the Lunch link are the same problems that occur during the reader mailbag feature — you don’t seem to have actually read what was written but instead respond to what you THINK was written. For example the woman who asked about make ahead meals for her family and you talked about making baby food. Maybe you really wanted to talk about making babyfood and were thinking about that and somehow misread what she said.

    Or maybe you should cut back on posting for awhile so there is better quality.

  14. Anna says:

    I LOVE Anyone lived in a pretty how town. I really think it ought to be set to music. Can’t you just hear folk guitar with it? :)

  15. Lindsey says:

    In regards to donating to charities, I prefer to know exactly where my donation is going. Non-profits that use more than 50% of my donation for overhead seem fishy. What are they actually doing for those in need is my question.
    My husband & I decided to ‘adopt’ a family for our first Christmas. Our city’s human services department has a list of families to be paired with for both Thanksgiving & Christmas. As donors, we tell the department how big of family we are willing to adopt, & provided a new toy for each child (we also had some learning activities for both), an article of clothing (we gave gift cards for clothing stores), & either a basket of food or a grocery store gift card. This is one tradition we plan on keeping, & we hope to eventually adopt more than 1 family each year.
    Not only did we get to help a local family, we were able to hand deliver the gifts to the family & see the impact we had on their lives. This also impacted us, as a realization that we have so much when others don’t have nearly as much.

  16. deRuiter says:

    Trent, If putting together so many articles is a burden, start a new policy and take one day a week off from writing. It’s obvious that you didn’t READ Seth Godin’s article, that you linked to it merely to fill space after reading the title. If you cut back one day a week, you’d have time to research what you write, run spell check and have someone edit for grammatical errors. You’d get a better product, although you’d miss a bit of click on ad revenue.

  17. Johanna says:

    @Lindsey: Although it seems like common sense that a charity with lower overhead is doing more for those in need, it’s not necessarily true. Google “charity overhead meaningless” for a bunch of articles on why a charity’s overhead ratio is (you guessed it) pretty much meaningless.

    Among other things: A charity that actually is “fishy” is not necessarily going to be honest about its overhead ratio.

  18. michael bash says:

    “I like the flavor of the words.” Well said! That alone raises you a giant leap in my estimation.

  19. Saundra says:


    Thank for getting the exact point I was trying to make. Administration costs are what keep an aid project up and functioning and are just as important, if not more important, than the gifts where donors can “see” what they’re paying for. The developing world is littered with broken water pumps and non-functioning solar panels because people will pay to install them but not to maintain them.
    Overheads are a false measure of an aid organization and the focus on them can actually lead to less effective projects that may actually do more harm than good.
    Here’s a link to a joint press release by several charity watchdog’s on the topic.

  20. reulte says:

    Funny, on the Seth Goden bit, I leaned toward’s Trent’s interpretation . . . ask easy opinions and then later, perhaps you ask harder opinions once you’ve shown that you’re interested.

    Poetry! Love Shakespeare, Kipling, limericks . . . currently trying to Inanna, Lady of the Largest Heart – ancient Sumarian poems.

  21. Barb says:

    My favorite poem is ‘Fleas’ – Adam had’em. by Strickland Gillilan who titled it cumbersomely ‘Lines on the Antiquity of Microbes’. I prefer the title Fleas.

    For hiking and biking try: Tyger, Tyger by William Blake; The Charge of the Light Brigade by Tennyson; The Road Goes Ever On from The Hobbit; and best of all —

    Now shall I walk
    or shall I ride?
    “Ride,” Pleasure said:
    “Walk,” Joy replied.
    ~W.H. Davies

    I say this one in my head all the time when making choices!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *