Course Introduction

Poetry Course, Lesson 1


There are basically two approaches you can take to memorizing poetry:

  1. Attach mnemonics to each individual word, ensuring that every detail is exactly in place.
  2. Focus on overall ideas and stanzas and lines, using mnemonics for the basic structure but remembering the details simply as elements that fall under the general ideas.

Personally, I’m much more in favor of the second option, because I find it both more practical and more meaningful. It seems to work really well for traditional poetry, or any poetry with rhyme and meter, though free verse poetry may sometimes be more effectively memorized using the first option. For this discussion, we’ll focus on traditional poetry.

Traditional poetry is very interesting because there are so many elements that help you remember it:

  • The progression of ideas and feelings
  • The structure in stanzas
  • Meter
  • Rhyme

If you remember the basic points in a poem and then listen to it or say it out loud a few times, all the elements listed above will make it pretty easy to get the poem basically word-perfect from there. In particular, meter and rhyme latch on to the memory pretty quickly.