Memorizing Poems

I did memorize poems years ago, but I don’t remember those now. Since I do write poems, it’s about time to commit some poems to memory. The ones I want to focus on are:

  1. When I have fears that I may cease to be–John Keats
  2. The Reckoning–Theodore Roethke
  3. My Papa’s Waltz–Theodore Roethke
  4. The Waking–Theodore Roethke
  5. Snake–Theodore Roethke
  6. The Pike–Theodore Roethke
  7. This Be the Verse–Philip Larkin
  8. I heard a Fly buzz–when I died–Emily Dickinson
  9. The Road Not Taken–Robert Frost
  10. Fire and Ice–Robert Frost
  11. Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening–Robert Frost
  12. The Owl–Edward Thomas
  13. Rain–Edward Thomas
  14. The Red Wheelbarrow–William Carlos Williams
  15. In a Station of the Metro–Ezra Pound
  16. Her Lips Are Copper Wire–Jean Toomer
  17. At Melville’s Tomb–Hart Crane
  18. This Lunar Reality–W.H. Auden
  19. The Pope’s Penis–Sharon Olds
  20. The School Children–Louise Gluck
  21. On the Amtrak from Boston to New York City–Sherman Alexie

The list will grow as I read more poetry collections. What poems do you think I should memorize? What poems do you have memorized?


  1. To recite a poem from memory is an amazing thing. In a poetry workshop I took several years ago, we each had to memorize a poem. I am huge e.e. cummings fan and chose, “i love my body when it is with your”
    You have an impressive list here, best of luck!

  2. Thanks! I had to memorize two poems for one of my poetry classes, and alas, I no longer remember them. It would be nice to recite the poems on a long walk.

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