Poem Memory Tip # 3

Some forms of poetry have a specific number of words or syllables.  Most, or at least many, sonnets contain 14 lines, each with 10 syllables.  Knowing a pattern like the number of syllables in a line, or a particular rhyme scheme can make memorizing a poem easier.  Here are the first four lines from Shakespeare’s Sonnet 128:

1. How oft when thou, my music, music play’st,
2. Upon that blessed wood whose motion sounds
3. With thy sweet fingers when thou gently sway’st
4. The wiry concord that mine ear confounds,

It’s helpful to know a poem’s patterns.  So many times while I’m going over a line and am not sure I got it right or not, I can count while I recite.  If I end up with eight or nine or twelve syllables, I know I missed or added something, but when I have ten, I am pretty sure I got it right.  Counting syllables is useful for poems like sonnets that have a regular number in each line.

This tip can be a helpful guide for me to know if I’ve gotten it without having to look at the actual text.  The longer I can work on a line without actually reading it, the more likely I’ll be committing the particular word, phrase, sentence or stanza to memory.

About literarylee

I sling words for a living. Always have, always will. Some have been interesting and fun; most not. These days, I write the fun words early in the morning before the adults are up and make me eat my Cream of Wheat.
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