"In my poetry class, I’ve always had students memorize something, a few things. I feel that if they’ve forgotten everything I’ve said, if they haven’t written anything down all semester and just stared out the window, at least they’ll come away with a poem memorized.
So one day, years ago, I was on the subway in New York, and a guy across the aisle kept kind of looking at me and finally he came over and said he recognized me as his teacher. I’d taught him about 10 years before that, or more. He’d since become an oncologist, and I congratulated him on his success. Then he said, “You made us memorize a poem.” And I said, “Yes.” And he said, “I’d like to say that poem for you.”
And it was a little poem by Emily Dickinson that he’d carried in his head, and maybe in his heart, for all those years. Over the roar of the 6 train, he yelled that poem in my ear, and I think it was probably the most satisfying pedagogical experience I’ve ever had.”
-Billy Collins, in a conversation