Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Why Should I Memorize Poetry?

What's your all-time favorite poem, one that you love and that you know inside and out?

(If you don't have a favorite poem, find one. And stop living such an empty life.)

For those of you who do have a favorite poem, I challenge you to memorize it. The entire thing.* You'll be shocked at how much more you can learn about a poem you thought you already knew.

But that's not all. Here's what else memorizing poetry does:

It improves your understanding of writing.
Memorize a great poem and you'll deeply appreciate the most sophisticated aspects of great writing. You'll understand every nuance of your poem, every flawless turn of phrase, every example of rhythm, cadence and word choice.

It's good cognitive practice.
Several years ago, I memorized two poems (Ozymandias by Percy Shelley, and Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge) and parts of a third (Ode To a Nightingale by John Keats). Now, years later, I can still recall large portions of all three. And my memory is terrible. Once that poem is in there, it stays. You'll enjoy it for the rest of your life.

You'll own your favorite poem.
Once you've memorized a poem, you own it. It's yours, inside and out. And you can share it with anyone, at any time.

* Note: Don't be embarrassed if this challenge helps you find a shorter favorite poem.