How is it that the word becomes flesh? We may find some help toward an answer in a post at the New Yorker in which Brad Leithauser reflects on the importance of memorizing poetry, even in an age of smart phones and instant Google access. We should memorize poetry, he concludes, because doing so is a way of making the words of poetry a part of the body.
The best argument for verse memorization may be that it provides us with knowledge of a qualitatively and physiologically different variety: you take the poem inside you, into your brain chemistry if not your blood, and you know it at a deeper, bodily level than if you simply read it off a screen. Robson puts the point succinctly: “If we do not learn by heart, the heart does not feel the rhythms of poetry as echoes or variations of its own insistent beat.”