One of the things my brother was using to gauge the depth of his brain dysfunction was whether or not he could remember all of the poem, “The Man From Snowy River”. Initially, before surgery he couldn’t and it distressed him but he regained that knowledge. Long term memories are fine, it appears.
It’s a long poem. It doesn’t surprise me that he remembered it because our family background had a lot of poetry in it. One of my fondest family memories is of turning off the television and just hanging out in front of the fire, in the sitting room, and my dad would read poetry for us. it obviously resonated with my brother as well and we grew up memorising poems with vast stanzas – at one stage I knew every verse of ‘How Horatio Kept The Bridge’ from Maccaulay’s Lays of Ancient Rome.
We wrote poetry, too. I remember a poem of my brother’s from a very long ago time. It was on ruled paper and in orange and green texta, with the unformed printing of a youngish child.
‘Boom! 1600 people meet their doom!
The horrors of war
Blood and Gore
Death all about
Not a single shout.
The 1600 Enola Gay climbed up and flew away.”
That was about the Hiroshima bombings. Pretty good for a child who can’t have been over eight and pretty good for me, 15 months younger, to remember. As I said, poetry made its mark on us.
(I have no idea why he focused on that event to write a poem about. I can’t even begin to imagine the teacher directive that led to it but we did go to a really hippy type of school and it is totally within the realms of possibility that the teacher was anti-war and promoting it through the classroom.)