Can you recite a poem you haven't learnt?

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Englishmypassion

Senior Member
India - Hindi
Dear Teachers,

Namaskar.

Can one recite a poem that one has not learnt by heart? In other words, can "recite" be used to mean reading a poem aloud to the class from a book without having learnt it at all?
I think having memorized the poem is essential for reciting it. No?

Thank you.
 
  • Barque

    Banned
    Tamil
    I'd normally call that "reading a poem out aloud" but I'm not sure you can't use "recite" in that context.

    Recite - from the WR dictionary - to repeat the words of, sometimes from memory, esp. in a formal manner or in a classroom setting

    Cross-posted.
     

    Englishmypassion

    Senior Member
    India - Hindi
    Thank you, Rover and Barque. I looked it up in the OALD, CALD and the WR dictionary but only the WR dictionary says that it can be done without using memory too. :confused:

    MW says "to repeat or read aloud something memorized or prepared". Now what does "prepared" mean exactly?:confused:
     
    Last edited:

    Barque

    Banned
    Tamil
    Scroll further down and you'l find this: transitive verb - 1: to repeat from memory or read aloud publicly
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    Can one recite a poem that one has not learnt by heart?
    I think the correct answer is "usually no".
    MW says "to repeat or read aloud something memorized or prepared". Now what does "prepared" mean exactly?
    Another example of Merriam-Webster providing a questionable definition.
    The meaning of "recite" depends on context. In the specific context of reciting a poem in front of a class, the sentence "He recited a poem to the class." would be understood to mean "recited from memory". If you wanted it to mean from a book I think you would need to include that information "He recited a poem to the class from his copy of Wordsworth's collected works". It's easier to say "He read a poem by Wordsworth to the class".

    You can certainly recite something written: "He recited a list of demands." That is an example of something 'prepared' for recitation, but in this (from Oxford online) "The mother, never idle, lays her workbox aside and throws her sewing work over the arm of her chair to listen solicitously as her daughter recites a passage from the Bible." the source of the recitation is not 'prepared'.
     
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