Memory Month Day 18: Memorizing a Poem

Today I decided to take myself way back to elementary and middle school. Those were the times when I had to memorize poems I didn’t really care for. The sad truth is that they were nearly all quite beautiful poems, but you see… having to drill them into my head really took the fun out of them. And you know what? That was because I was doing it the wrong way.

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Today I wanted to memorize a poem by using the technique of visualizing, since this is this week’s theme. While I was looking for a poem that wasn’t too long, and that I was actually interested in, I got a great idea. What if I would compare what it is like to memorize a poem using the visualize technique, and then, not using it? Now, you might be thinking that it is not possible to memorize the same poem twice…But you’re wrong! It is perfectly possible, if you learn it in two different languages.

Since I am perfectly fluent in Romanian, I decided to give it a shot. Now granted, this isn’t the greatest controlled, scientific study you’ll ever see. Not by a far cry…But it is a nice comparison, nevertheless.

So, the poem I decided to work with is Why Don’t You Come, by Mihai Eminescu (Eminescu is considered Romania’s greatest poet).  I’ve known of a site that conveniently has both versions (English and Romanian) side by side, so I took the opportunity to make use of it. If you want to read the poem for yourself, click here. It’s quite a sweet poem, and it only has six stanzas, so reading it won’t take long 🙂

Alright, so I started by memorizing the first version, which is in English. For every line, I painted in my head a vivid picture of what was being described. Well, at least I did that whenever I thought it was possible. At first, it was quite fun! It only took me about 40 to 50 seconds to get each stanza down, and then another 20 or so seconds to repeat it to make sure I knew it. The problem came when I “decided” to get bored. This boredom of mine made me want to stop using sooo much mental energy on picturing every line in my mind. So I slipped into purely repeating each stanza without visualizing, which I was supposed to do with the Romanian version of the poem only.

Well, thankfully, I caught myself quite fast, and I corrected my mistake. So I started to picture the lines again. However, I figured that it is quite difficult to match a certain order of the words with a picture. The first line of the fourth stanza, for example, speaks of women on the earth, but simply imagining some women on Earth did not help me get down the particular sequence of the words. I mean, you can say that there are women on earth in several ways. Ditto for nearly all the other lines.

Nonetheless, all in all, I can proudly say I managed to memorize the English version of the poem quite readily. With the exception of the slip I had, I found it to be quite an engaging experience.

Now on to the second method. Well, that was a whole different story. First of all, I found it very difficult to go from using the visualizing technique to not using it. With the first stanza, I had to actively stop myself from creating engaging pictures of the lines in my head. And then, the minute I succeeded, I became bored. Well, it makes perfect sense! Here I was, simply repeating words in my head over and over again. Who wouldn’t get bored of that?!

In the end, I managed to memorize both versions of the poem. I didn’t particularly enjoy the second method, but I was extremely happy of the visualizing method. Indeed, it makes things much more interesting! 🙂

 

/Larisa

  • Confused about what’s going on? Click here!
  • For the post that started this challenge, click here.
  • For yesterday’s entry, click here.
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