The first poem I ever memorized:


Wilbur Wright and Orville Wright

Said Orville Wright to Wilbur Wright,

“These birds are very trying.

I’m sick of hearing them cheep-cheep

About the fun of flying.

A bird has feathers, it is true.

That much I freely grant.

But must that stop us, W?”

Said Wilbur Wright, “It shan’t.”

And so they built a glider, first,

And then they built another.

—There never were two brothers more

Devoted to each other.

They ran a dusty little shop

For bicycle-repairing,

And bought each other soda-pop

And praised each other’s daring.

They glided here, they glided there,

They sometimes skinned their noses.

—For learning how to rule the air

Was not a bed of roses—

But each would murmur, afterward,

While patching up his bro.

“Are we discouraged, W?”

“Of course we are not, O!”

And finally, at Kitty Hawk

In Nineteen-Three (let’s cheer it!),

The first real airplane really flew

With Orville there to steer it!

—And kingdoms may forget their kings

And dogs forget their bites,

But not till Man forgets his wings

Will men forget the Wrights.

Stephen Vincent Benet



7 Responses to “The first poem I ever memorized:”

  1. I memorized this in third grade …. it was also the first poem that I ever memorized!!

  2. I am excited to see this. I learned this, along with Patrice, Elaine, Linda, Ann and a bunch of others in Mr. Wallace’s 6th grade class (Alamo, CA) in 1977. We still remember it, bits and piece, and thanks to the www I have found it in entirety. I forgot a few stanzas and am happy to refresh my memory! Thanks for posting.

  3. whats a stanza????????????????????????????????????????????????

  4. I also had to memorize this poem in school. I am now a teacher for more than 20 years and I still remember this poem. There are power in words. I’m thankful for the teacher that gave me this assignment.

  5. I memorized this in 1953, and still it comes to mind often. Happy to see it is still active.

  6. This is the only poem that I know by heart. I learned it for 6th Grade graduation ceremonies at Paseo Del Rey Elementary with in earshot of LA International Airport. I was graduating to Orville Wright Jr. High. This poem captured my imagination in 1971 and in 1999 I visited Kitty Hawk, NC and stood on the very Kill Devil Hill sand dune where Orville and Wilbur experimented with their gliders and perfected their Wright Flyer. The poem, though short and simple, captures the spirit of the Wright Brothers 4+ years of experiments that went into learning how to safely control a flying machine.

  7. First poem I memorized ,and still remember to this date, in 5th grade.

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