Memorizing Keats

Discussion on the works of John Keats.

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Memorizing Keats

Postby Laurence » Mon May 05, 2003 9:38 pm

I have memorized most of the first book of Endymion. It has become an extremely enjoyable task, and I want to continue on. I never had memorized much of anything before, so I had to train my memory to make it possible for me to memorize this much poetry. I am interested in knowing about any others who are engaged in learning Keats off by heart.

I had to create a memory index to the Endymion text I have learned so far, so that I can access individual sections without needing to run through all the previous text in order to arrive at the desired section. I generally find that retention is quite good, and I frequently will recall a section or two before I fall asleep. In any situation I am in where I might wish to be elsewhere, i have only to begin reciting some Keats to myself, silently or aloud, to be transported away.
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Postby corydroid » Tue May 06, 2003 7:00 pm

As a lucid dreamer, I had hoped to memorize Hyperion and The fall of Hperion so that I may one day dream it. I read it every night before I go to bed, and I have a lot of the text from both memorized, but a lot to go.
"Oh sister, O daughter of Giuki, O child of my mother's womb
, By what death shall the Niblungs perish, what day is the day of their doom?"-Hogni
"Ye shall die to-day, Oh brethren, at the hands of a king forsworn."-Gudrun
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Location: Cincinnati, OH U.S.A.

Postby Endymion » Tue May 06, 2003 10:35 pm

Wow that's incredible! I am hopeless at memorising anything, but have noticed the link between visual representation and memory: if you visualise a thing it's much easier to link to the written memory.

I'm quite pitiful, really, having memorised only two short (and I mean _short_ ) poems, and I am mesmerised (?) by the fact that the human memory can remember so much.

What do you mean by a "memory index"? How does that work?
"He Stood in His Shoes and he Wondered
He Wondered
He Stood in his Shoes and He Wondered."
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Location: London, UK

Postby Laurence » Wed May 07, 2003 1:35 pm

I also had done very little memorization and thought it quite difficult. I did then read a little book on memory training techniques, and became quite interested in how the memory works. I have always felt a special regard for Keats, and for some reason I decided to start learning Endymion. It was very slow at first, but then, as with any skill, the more you work at it, the better you get.

My memory index is a sequence of images that key to the first line of each section as it is paragraphed in my text. So, for example, a pair of sneakers reminds me of the line,

Now while the silent workings of the dawn were busiest,

Sneakers allow one to walk silently, and that reminds me of the line. I also know it is the sixth paragraphed section of Endymion. How do I know that? Because of a number indexing system I learned, in which "shoes" maps to the number six. It sounds complicated, I realize, but it actually isn't.

As a result of this indexing system, I can recite each paragraphed section I have learned in forward or reverse order. Some of the sections are quite long, for example,

Leading the way, young damsels danced along,

is the first line of the quite long eighth section,


Nor do we feel these essences

the second section, is quite short. Nevertheless, I keep to the paragraphs as indicated in the text, whether a section is long or short, it gets the same kind of index entry.
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