Dahlia Lithwick—who, as a student, was forced to commit to memory sections of Macbeth, The Tempest and Hamlet—defends learning poems by heart, despite how useless the task may appear at first:
I am not that old, but I fear that I couldn’t memorize another poem for love or money or a guaranteed A anymore. I can barely memorize my Facebook password. But I do know that at more than one turn in my life, I have stumbled backward into a memory of a stanza or a phrase that suddenly made the moment briefly beautiful, and connected, and deep. And that the dogged memorization of hateful poems, which sucked mightily at the time, later became the template for sorting the serious from the silly, before we knew what silliness really was.