How to Memorize a Poem

Memorizing a poem can be a simple task if you know how to go about it. No matter if you're in elementary school or college, you may at one point have to memorize and recite a poem in front of a group of your peers.

Follow these easy steps to make memorization a snap.

1. Choose a short poem that you like.

If you're allowed to choose your poem it is best to choose a short one. This will help you to learn and master these memorization skills easily. Work your way up to memorizing longer poems.

The more you like the poem you have to memorize the better. It's much easier to remember something that you're interested in. If your teacher assigns a specific poem you may not have any choice in the matter and you may have to delve deeply inside of the poem and yourself to stimulate your interest.

2. Read the poem.

You never get the full meaning of a poem on the first read and a thorough understanding of the material is important to the memorization process. Read the poem to yourself at least five times. Look up any words you are unsure of in the dictionary.

Once you're sure you know what the poem is all about try reading it out loud. Do this a few times and get a feeling for the rhythm of the poem. Experiment with different beats until you find one that feels right for you. No two people will ever read a poem alike.

Take the time now to recite the poem slowly and find out the most comfortable places to take breaths. Remember that you don't have to pause at the end of every line, but rather where it feels natural to pause. The exception to this rule is in between stanzas, which will be marked off by a white space.

3. Take a break.

Now that you have a feel for the poem and have practice saying it out loud, put it away for a little while. Go for a walk and see how much of the poem you can remember. Don't be surprised if only a few words or phrases float into your mind instead of entire lines. If you can't remember anything, don't worry!

4. Memorize the poem.

It's time to get down business, but it doesn't have to be like work. Approach the poem as a challenge to be mastered, not as a job. The more relaxed you are the easier it will be to remember!

Break the poem into parts. If there aren't any stanza breaks you can just break the poem up yourself every five or six lines. It will be much easier to memorize small pieces instead of the whole poem at once.

Read the first stanza. Close your eyes and see how much you remember. Open your eyes and see how well you did. Try imagining pictures in your mind to go along with the poem. Visuals are very good reminders as you recite a poem. Let each line have an image, which connects to the following line and image. If you can't remember the words, seeing the picture in your head may spark the words.

Repeat this process until you can recite out loud the entire first stanza. Don't move on to the second stanza until you are confident with the first.

Repeat the process for the second stanza, just concentrating on it alone. Once you can say the second stanza aloud, now do the first and second together.

Repeat until you have the poem completely memorized.

5. Recite the poem out loud.

Imagine yourself standing in front of your class smiling and reciting and getting all the words correct.

Recite the poem for your family and friends, too. Live practice in front of actual people will feel a lot different then when it's just you. It may be helpful for you to concentrate on a spot on the wall behind your audience. Choose a clock or a window or a flower and recite your poem to it because if you look at people in the eye you may get nervous and lose your concentration.

6. Get a good night's sleep.

Make sure you are well rested for your big day. It's helpful to read through the poem right before you go to sleep. Our brains tend to remember whatever the last thing is that we read or hear at night, so make sure your poem is the last thought you have as you drift into sleep.

And that's it! You're ready to go. Take a last glimpse over the poem, cementing it in your mind right before you recite. Then have fun…and don't forget to smile!