My father was born in Hancock County, Kentucky in the town of Hawesville in 1914. He grew up in the age where children were taught great pieces of literature. My dad would quote entire poems from memory, right up until his death on October 11, 1990 at the age of 76. He never forgot. After searching for the source of the quote below, I would imagine that he had learned the entire poem.
At his funeral, we had a number of his favorite poems read. The pastor who presided at his funeral was Dr. Franklin Owen, who was about the same age as my father and who, himself, had recited many of the same poems by memory. When we asked him to recite the poem about "I'd rather sit by the side of the road and be a friend to man", he knew it by memory and recited it right there!
I am about to begin my 26th year of teaching. I am currently teaching kindergarten but have past experience to sixth grade. Children today have no concept of this type of teaching.
I am so fortunate to have lived with this great man who was full of wisdom and wit!!