Poems to Memorize

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Poetry Recitation Rubric

How to Memorize a Poem–Ideas here are from Immersed in Verse (p.94 & 95)

The more you repeat your poem, the more it will become second nature with no awkward pauses. Memorize it over the coures of many days. It’s better to devote 20 minutes a day over five days, for a total of 1 hr. 40 min. rather than to spend four hours in one night.

Time spent between memorization is important. The lapse of time between the lines you learned, and then coming back to them on days that follow, help you take the memorization from short-term to long-term memory. The day spent memorizing, a day off, a day spent memorizing, a day off pattern can help you to eventually be able to retrieve your poem quickly without hesitation.

1. Repeat the first line until you can say it 10 times fluently.
2. Repeat the next line until you can say it 10 times fluently
3. Repeat the first two lines together 10 times.
4. Memorize the third line next. Then repeat the second and third lines together. Then the third and fourth lines. Then the fourth and fifth, and so on.
5. Continue memorizing your lines in overlapping pairs so that you’re practicing the transition from one line to the next. This will give you experience moving easily from the end of one line to the beginning of the next line.
6. Your final recitation will be more fluid, without long pauses between lines.
7. After yo’ve made it through the entire poem working the overlapping pairs, go back and attempt to recite four lines at a time, then six lines, thus increasing the size of your groupings until eventually you can recite the entire poem. 

Other Tips for Memorizing Poetry–Ideas here are from Immersed in Verse (p.94 & 95)

  • Relax–it’s easier to memorize when you’re relaxed
  • Get rid of background noise
  • Combine techniques: listening to the poem, saying the poem, writing the poem, reading the poem, acting it out, setting it to music, dancing to it, etc. 
  • Memorize a poem you like
  • Memorize while sanding up so your whole body can be involved in the process
  • Create memorization movements to go with clusters of words. Movements can be remembered more easily than words.
  • Speak your poem out loud as  you repeat the lines. This gets your body involved.
  • Use a tape recorder.
  • Memorize the last part first so that it is as smooth as the first half.
  • Use other memory methods such as pictures, initials, phrases, associations, and movements to help you remember the word that comes next.
  • Speed-through rehearse if you know the poem but say it haltingly, forcing yourself to keep the flow going. If you can do 10 speed-throughs in a row, you are probably ready to recite in front of an audience.

Extended Learning: Memorize a Poem

Listen to the way words unfold inside you. Naomi Shihab Nye.


  1. Alone,” Maya Angelou
  2. I Love the Look of Words,”Maya Angelou
  3. Edward, Edward,” anonymous–traditional
  4. Girl Scout Picnic, 1954,” June Beisch
  5. Winter: Tonight: Sunset,”David Budhill
  6. “The Fish,” Elizabeth Bishop
  7. The Tyger,” William Blake
  8. Cynthia in the Snow, Gwendolyn Brooks
  9. We Real Cool,” Gwendolyn Brooks
  10. How Do I Love Thee?” Elizabeth Barret Browning
  11. Red, Red Rose,” Robert Burns
  12. Reverence,” Julie Cadwallader-Staub
  13. A Man Never Cries,” Jose Craveirin
  14. Blessing the Boats,” Lucille Clifton
  15. On Turning Ten,” Billy Collins
  16. Introduction to Poetry,” Billy Collins
  17. I’m Nobody,” Emily Dickinson
  18. Arabia,” Walter De La Mer
  19. Silver, Walter De La Mer and an audio version of the poem
  20. The Ordinary,” Kirsten Dierking
  21. The Sacred,” Stephen Dunn
  22. Winken, Blinken & Nod, Eugene Field
  23. Owl Pellets,” Ralph Fletcher
  24. Fireflies, Paul Fleischman
  25. The Road Not Taken,” Robert Frost
  26. Goodbye, New York,” Deborah Garrison
  27. I Want to Say,” Natalie Goldberg
  28. I’d Love to be a Fairy’s Child,” Robert Graves
  29. Daydreamers,” Eloise Greenfield
  30. Summer Kitchen,” Donald Hall
  31. Cottonwoods,” Phebe Hanson
  32. Be My Mistress Short or Tall,” Robert Herrick
  33. Mashed Potato Love Poem,” Sidney Hoddes
  34. Childhood of the Ancients,” Andrew Hudgins
  35. April Rain Song,” Langston Hughes and an animated version and a choir version
  36. Bring Me All Your Dreams,” Langston Hughes
  37. “Dreams,” Langston Hughes
  38. Dream Deferred, Langston Hughes
  39. The Negro Speaks of Rivers,” Langston Hughes
  40. Winter Moon,” Langston Hughes
  41. Song To Celia (II),” by Ben Jonson
  42. “Night Song,” Molly Jordan
  43. “A Thing of Beauty”, John Keats
  44. If” by Rudyard Kipling
  45. “From Blossoms,” Li-Young Lee
  46. Drying Their Wings,” Vachel Lindsay
  47. An Indian Summer Day on the Prairie,” Vachel Lindsay
  48. The Arrow and the Song,” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  49. Snow-Flakes,” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  50. “Climbing,” Amy Lowell
  51. Has My Heart Gone to Sleep?” Antonio Machado
  52. Allah,”  Siegfried August Mahlmann
  53. ”Sea Fever”, Masefield
  54. Faith Metheny, Edgar Lee Masters
  55. “Boy Juggling a Soccer Ball,” Christopher Merril
  56. A Warm Summer in San Francisco, Carolyn Miller
  57. “Petals,” Pat Mora
  58. Sidewalk Racer,” Lillian Morrison
  59. House Made of Dawn,” Navaho chant
  60. Ode to the Black Panther,” Pablo Neruda
  61. Ode to Lemons,” Pablo Neruda
  62. Ode to My Socks, “Pablo Neruda
  63. Ode to a Watermelon,” Pablo Neruda
  64. “The Highwayman,” Noyes
  65. A Summer Day,” Mary Oliver
  66. A Visitor,” Mary Oliver
  67. Wild Geese,” Mary Oliver
  68. “At the Beach,” Kemal Ozer
  69. Driving at Night,” Sheila Packa
  70. Night Journey,” Theodore Roethke
  71. Fog,” Carl Sandburg
  72. The Season’s Campaign,” Joyce Sidman
  73. Spring is the Time,” Joyce Sidman
  74. Spring Splashdown,” Joyce Sidman
  75. Stone,” Charles Simic
  76. Traveling through the Dark,” William Stafford
  77. Fifteen,” William Stafford
  78. One Home,” William Stafford
  79. “You Reading This, Be Ready,” William Stafford
  80. “Watching the Jet Planes Dive,” William Stafford audio version
  81. Pot Roast,” Mark Strand
  82. Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird,” Wallace Stevens
  83. “Another Feeling,” Ruth Stone
  84. A New Lifestyle,”James Tate
  85. February Twilight,” Sara Teasdale
  86. Break, Break, Break,” Alfred Lord Tennyson
  87. Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night,”by Dylan Thomas
  88. My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun, William Shakespeare
  89. How like a winter hath my absence been (Sonnet 97), William Shakespeare
  90. New York Notes,” Harvey Shapiro
  91. “The Swing”, Robert Louis Stevenson
  92. “The Last Things I’ll Remember,” Joyce Sutphen
  93. The Eagle,” Alfred Lord Tennyson
  94. O Captain! My Captain!,  Walt Whitman
  95. The Writer,” Richard Wilbur
  96. This is Just to Say,” William Carlos Williams
  97. Bluebird,” Judy Young
  98. Lord Randall,” Anonymous
  99. Famous Poems
  100. Site with classic poems for children, including recordings by the poets

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