My mother's youngest sister tells me that, as a school girl in Canada, my grandmother, along with all the other kids I suppose, memorized Thomas Gray's "Elegy Written In A Country Churchyard". My lovely aunt warned me that it would jerk some tears, and indeed it can, if read with enough attention to get what the heck the clever 18th century riddler tries to communicate. Just a glimpse at the flavor of a youth spent in Canada in the 1930s. Funny how literature and arts, in context, can act as time machines, reflections of visions and philosophies.
In 8th grade I memorized the Gettysburg Address, but it did not make a huge impression upon me. I only had it for a minute and it dissappeared, except the "Four score and seven years ago.. " part. Grandmother knew this whole mournful epic for years, how I can not fathom. My mother still knows more Shakespeare than I can believe, so not such a huge surprise. If only kids today were made to memorize more long poems maybe we the world would taste more Utopiated. In 9th grade I memorized Jefferson Airplane's "White Rabbit", and it has helped me, many a time, much love to Grace Slick.