Why Poetry?

Mar 28, 2019 | Posted by Jennifer


Why should your students memorize poetry? At first glance, poetry doesn’t seem to connect with our high-speed, high-tech digital world. Wouldn’t your educational time be better spent helping your students build their computer research skills or strengthening their keyboarding skills? Though it might seem so, there are a surprising number of benefits to be gained by engaging in the practice of poetry memorization. Students obtain a strong vocabulary, develop phonemic awareness, and strengthen their spelling and pronunciation skills. Good poems also expose students to sophisticated language patterns. Andrew Pudewa’s audio talk “Nurturing Competent Communicators” details these benefits even further. Over time these same skills will transfer to your students’ writing and speaking. Perhaps best of all, poetry is enjoyable to listen to and fun to memorize.

Consider the following poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, which is included in the first level of Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization:

                                                                                      The Eagle

                                  He clasps the crag with crooked hands;
                                  Close to the sun in lonely lands.
                                  Ringed with the azure world, he stands.
                                  The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;
                                  He watches from his mountain walls.
                                  And like a thunderbolt he falls.

The brief, two-stanza, six-line poem packs a punch. To begin with, there is some fabulous vocabulary used in the poem. Words like “crag” and “azure” are unusual words that aren’t typically used in a student’s everyday conversations. By looking in the margin of the Teacher’s Manual, the teacher can share that “azure” means the “rich blue of the sky on a clear day.” A “crag” is the point of a steep, rugged rock, such as may be found along the edge of a cliff.

In addition to the beautiful words of the poem, there are many literary devices that Tennyson employs, including alliteration (“clasps,” “crag,” and “crooked”), simile (“like a thunderbolt he falls”), and personification (“crooked hands” and “wrinkled sea”). Strong imagery pervades the poem in all of the lines. Reading the poem, students can almost feel the sun on their skin and the isolation of the eagle. And once they memorize the poem, it’s with them forever—the vocabulary, the literary devices, the delight. It’s powerful stuff. Memorizing poems like this opens linguistic as well as imaginative doors for students.

Poetry still resonates today, perhaps in spite of our technologically fueled world. April marks National Poetry Month in the United States. It’s a month where we celebrate poetry and hope to increase awareness of poetry and poets. If you are interested in adding poetry to your students’ repertoire, check out Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization. It’s packed with beautiful poetry that is sure to engage your students’ brains and delight their ears. It includes more than seventy classic poems, including “The Eagle,” for your students to discover, learn, and memorize. In short, it’s a wonderful way to build linguistic development in your students.


Jennifer Mauser has always loved reading and writing and received a B.A. in English from the University of Kansas in 1991. Once she and her husband had children, they decided to homeschool, and she put all her training to use in the home. In addition to homeschooling her children, Jennifer teaches IEW classes out of her home, coaches budding writers via email, and tutors students who struggle with dyslexia.

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