These days, people find it easier to actually read a poem than memorize it. However reading poems at events and competitions does not actually make the right impression. Most people expect you to recite poems. Nevertheless, if you have never memorized a poem, you may find it a tad difficult. There are several ways in which you can learn to memorize it by heart. One way of doing this is by picking out an easy poem, or a poem which has a storyline.
Poems for Children
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening ~ Robert Frost
Adventures Of Isabel ~ Ogden Nash
The Dentist and the Crocodile ~ Roald Dahl
Casey at the Bat ~ Ernest Lawrence Thayer
The Quarrel ~ Maxine Kumin
The Lion and the Lily ~ Elizabeth Spires
The Owl and the Pussy Cat ~ Edward Lear
Bed in Summer ~ Robert Louis Stevenson
You Are Old, Father William ~ Lewis Carroll
Humpty Dumpty’s Song ~ Lewis Carroll
At The Sea-side ~ Robert Louis Stevenson
Every Time I Climb a Tree ~ David McCord
Fable ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
The Land of Counterpane ~ Robert Louis Stevenson
What Does the Bee Do? ~ Christina Rossetti
At the Zoo ~ William Makepeace Thackeray
Where Did You Come From, Baby Dear? ~ George MacDonald
The Field Mouse ~ Cecil Frances Alexander
There was a Little Girl ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
A Riddle ~ Christina Rossetti
Little Things ~ Julia A. Carney
The First Tooth ~ Charles and Mary Lamb
Above the Bright Blue Sky ~ Albert Midlane
All Things Bright and Beautiful ~ Cecil Frances Alexander
The Spider and the Fly ~ Mary Howitt
Poems for Adults
Musée des Beaux Arts ~ W. H. Auden
The Snow Man ~ Wallace Stevens
Palimpsest ~ Jared Carter
Tears, Idle Tears ~ Lord Alfred Tennyson
Jabberwocky ~ Lewis Carroll
If ~ Rudyard Kipling
The Blind Men and the Elephant ~ John Godfrey Saxe
Dream Deferred ~ Langston Hughes
Trees ~ Joyce Kilmer
Purple Cow ~ Gelett Burgess
El Dorado ~ Edgar Allan Poe
The Waking ~ Theodore Roethke
Richard Cory ~ Edward Arlington Robinson
Song to Celia ~ Ben Jonson
Lay Your Sleeping Head, My Love ~ W. H. Auden
Iowa & Other Accidents ~ Kate Northrop
Because I Could Not Stop for Death ~ Emily Dickinson
For Whom the Bell Tolls ~ John Donne
Home ~ Edgar Albert Guest
Dover Beach ~ Matthew Arnold
Song ~ John Donne
Chartless ~ Emily Dickinson
The Night Before Christmas ~ Clement Clarke Moore
I Stood upon a High Place ~ Stephen Crane
Death Be Not Proud ~ John Donne
High Flight ~ John Gillespie Magee, Jr.
Dust of Snow ~ Robert Frost
Heart, We Will Forget Him! ~ Emily Dickinson
To See a World ~ William Blake
Tips for Memorizing Poems
If you have the liberty to choose a poem, it would be better to select one that is short and easy. However, if your teacher selects a poem which is a long one, you can still learn the poem by dividing it into different parts. Also, read the poem well and try to understand its deeper meaning, before you choose one that you want to memorize. Here are a few tips for memorizing the poem.
Once you have decided the poem, the next step is to start learning it. Begin by reading the poem line by line for at least five times. Try to understand each and every word of the poem. If you find some words which you do not know at this stage, look for its meaning in the dictionary. Reading the poem aloud will also help in memorizing it.
Most of us find it easy to memorize a song because the lyrics have a tune to them. Though you do not have to set the poem to a tune, reading it more than once will help you in understanding its rhythm. Here, you will also recognize the areas where you have to pause and their exact pronunciation.
Once you have read the poem a few times, close the book and try to recall the poem. You may remember some words, phrases, lines, or may be nothing at all. However, you do not have to worry, if you are not able to recall anything.
The next step is the actual memorization process. Break the poem into several sections and then repeat each one of them line by line. After you do this for a couple of times, try to recite the line without looking into the book. Repeat this process till you are able to recite the whole poem by heart.
Once you have memorized the poem well, keep on practicing till you are able to recite the poem fluently. Practicing in front of an audience, like your family, friends, or teacher can also be helpful.
Memorizing a poem is not at all difficult if you put your mind and heart into it. As John Hollander opines,
“We speak of memorizing as getting something ‘by heart,’ which really means ‘by head.’ But getting a poem or prose passage truly ‘by heart’ implies getting it by mind and memory and understanding and delight”