I think that learning a little about poetry structure yesterday was useful.

I started looking at some poems. This example is an excerpt by e. e. cummings:

AMORES I

consider O
woman this
my body.
for it has

lain
with empty arms
upon the giddy hills
to dream of you,

E.E. Cummings

Now that I have some awareness of meter I can pick out patterns, like the iambic feet in lines 4 to 8. If my recalled words don’t fit an iambic pattern, I’ll know that my recall is wrong.

There are short lines of 2 words each. Then a pickup, like the anacrusis in American folk music where the music moves to a C chord from a G on guitar (G A B C). I set “for it has” to those notes on guitar.

E|---------------------|-0------|
B|---------------------|-1------|
G|---------------------|-0------|
D|---------------------|-2------|
A|-----------0----2----|-3------|
E|------3--------------|--------|

for  it   has    lain

consider O
woman this
my body.
for it has

lain
with empty arms
upon the giddy hills
to dream of you,

“Lain” is easy to remember because it hooks into my English grammar mnemonics with the airplane (lie), wolf (lay), and Lois Lane (has lain).

Line breaks happen at nouns:

lain
with empty arms
upon the giddy hills
to dream of you,

Punctuation Mnemonics

There is a period (smooth black stone) after “my body”, and a comma (dandelion flower) after “you”. Easy images.

Identifying with the Characters’ Motivations

Yan mentioned a good tip about emotions. On my first run through of the poem, I accidentally remembered:

take O
woman this
my body.

consider O
woman this
my body.

To fix it, I thought about the motivation: asking the woman to consider information rather than take something.

“O” is a Japanese prefix that adds respect. “O” comes before woman.

It isn’t “giddy arms” and “empty hills”; his arms are empty because he is dreaming. “Giddy hills” implies motion in the image of hills.

USA Competition Poetry Event

The US poetry event example doesn’t appear to have a fixed meter so knowing the structure of poetry might not help as much.

This part of the poetry competition example looks like dactyl-trochee-iamb-iamb-anapest:

“Splashes of color, they catch the beams of the sun”

It seems easy to remember patterns. Dactyl-trochee immediately reminds me of notation for Venezuelan guitar music which brings up the image of a Venezuelan guitar player who I met in Argentina.

Venezuelan Merengue

Memorization Method for Poetry

At this early stage, I’m thinking that I will try to memorize general structures of the poems, and then assign one unit of a poem (probably a line) to each locus.

To memorize a lot of poetry this way will require a lot of memory journeys.