On memorizing poetry

I began memorizing poetry many years ago, specifically for the purpose of reciting in the car. When my children were young, reciting poetry was a great tool to use when they were getting really loud, in that escalating noise that occasionally occurs with a pair of pre-schoolers in the back seat.

On the approach to a busy intersection requiring a left turn and my undivided attention, for example, it was highly effective to say, “Boys! I am going to say a poem. Would you rather hear ‘The Meeting’ or ‘The Wind and The Leaves’?”  I’d offer a pair of random titles. They were used to this. “The Wind and The Leaves, The Wind and The Leaves!” my eldest would happily call out, with my younger one singing his agreement.

I could more easily focus on driving the three of us safely through important intersections and heavy traffic while reciting a poem, than when being inundated with an increasing din of hearty childhood exuberance. It worked like a charm, providing me with quiet as I essentially told them a story, which just so happened to rhyme.

Memorizing a poem takes up ‘real estate’ in the brain, so to speak. Plus, it was like pouring words into my children’s minds, so I’ve always selected poems for memorization carefully. Here is my criteria. It has to be something that lifts my spirits, tells a story, and preferably rhymes. I would tape the page of poetry to the cupboard above my kitchen sink and work on memorizing it as I washed the dishes. Saying the stanzas over and over, picturing the story the poet was telling, imprinting it permanently into memory. I went through a stage in my twenties when I was memorizing a new poem every month. Not surprisingly, it was around this time in my life that I began creating my own poetry.

In celebration of inspirational poetry, I’m beginning a new component of this blog. I shall start sharing all the poems I have memorized! It will be a growing list, but as enticement here is a list of the poems I have memorized to date and will be sharing soon. This list is by no means exhaustive, and only includes the ones I’ve memorized, not my favorites. THAT would be a much longer list! For the poems previously posted, click the link to view the poem. 

Sermons We See, Edgar A. Guest (see post)

It Couldn’t Be Done, Edgar A. Guest (see post)

Myself, Edgar A. Guest

The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, Robert Frost

The Wind and The Leaves, George Cooper (see post)

Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain, Verna Aardema (see post)

I  Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou

The Meeting, Rachel Field (see post)

Vestigia, Bliss Carman

Roadside Flowers, Bliss Carman

The Old Grey Wall, Bliss Carman

Before The Snow, Bliss Carman

Here and Now, Bliss Carman

The Winds of Fate, Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Solitude, Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Trees, Joyce Kilmer

Barter, Sara Teasdale (see post)

Starry Heavens, Robert Montgomery (see post)

Flying Crooked, Robert Graves (see post)

I Want You, Arthur Gillom

Don’t Quit, unknown author

I Know Something Good About You, Louis C. Shimon (view Jan Beek’s post)

Book of Luke 2:7-14 ~The Christmas Story

The Prayer of Saint Francis (see post)

The Lord’s Prayer, Matthew 6:9-13

The Prayer of Jesus, Mark Lloyd Richardson (view his post)

My Prayer, unknown author (see post)

The Difference, unknown author (see post)


My own poems that I have memorized:
My Two Gifts (see post)
Rainy Remembrance (see post)
Shine (see post)
Freedom (see post)
Comparison (post)
Overflow (see post)
The Gifts of Autumn
Giving Thanks (see post)
My Affirmation
My Vision

Copyright protected poetry. For personal use only.
Do not change or use commercially without prior written permission.

Author: Gina Day

I enjoy gathering uplifting things for sharing, with hopes of brightening the day.

26 thoughts on “On memorizing poetry”

  1. Poetry – why didn’t I think of that??? It appears that perhaps that is a better approach versus my own tactic of hollering and then telling the kids to stop touching, looking at, and breathing on each other. 😉 You clever girl! Love this post. I really do. Your gentle soul inspires my rough and tumble one. Hugs to you! Jo

    1. Hello dear one, I love your comment here! It means so much to me to have struck a chord with a kindred spirit, who ‘gets’ what I was writing between the lines. Indeed this was a motivation on my part to move beyond the hollered QUIET! that only resulted in hurt feelings, all around. In reading bedtime stories, it struck me, Why not take some time and memorize this stuff to recite in the car? So glad I made that choice. Many warm hugs to you! Your friend, Gina

  2. That’s a great idea! My kids have to memorize poems at the school they attend. Your blog post is making me consider memorizing a few myself. Thanks for the inspiration!

  3. Oh if only! I used to have so many memorized when I was younger…I think 5 kids later…my memory thinks more on diaper changes and recipes…lol. One day again:)

      1. lol..not likely…but one day. He still is molar free, meaning he is up every other hour…today I wrote a word…an embarassingly common word, and had to look it up to make sure it was the proper definition and spelling…I am sleep deprived to a degree that is I think biologically impossible…lol. Oh well. Life! Better than death!

  4. I use to to this when I went to poetry readings. But now my memory is fuddle I can’t remember what I said 5 minutes ago. 😀 That is such a good idea with your kids, it’s something they will remember all their live.

    1. Thank you dear heart, and while my memory is more fuzzy than in my youth it still benefits from memorizing things. Thanks again for your kind comment. I do believe it is an excellent tool for parenting. Hugs, Gina

    1. Hello Terry, how wonderful to meet you! Your WordPress blog allows us to easily comment with each other, and your Blogspot blog is beautifully done. Gorgeous poetry and imagery that sends me to a library ~ a favourite place! I look forward to investigating your abundant posts, and your published works look like my kind of books. Even your Beyond Windows site is lovely and I am eager to return and look at those quilts. I am delighted that you included a link to my post on your article today. It really perks me up on a day when a harsh critique about my other blog (about living green) really took the wind out of my sails. But here you are like a breath of fresh air for me, thank you! Warm hugs from a new fan, Gina

  5. brilliant. i am so far behind on my reading…wish i had more hours in my day. i love your writing and i love your outlook and this idea rocks!

Comments are closed.