How to remember the poem: The Gravel Walks by Seamus Heaney

I had to study this famous poem of Seamus Heaney for my English oral exam. By using mnemonics it took me 15-20min to remember it and I haven’t forgotten it since then.

I’d like to sharing my mnemonic and point out that it is best to memorize a poem by understanding the depth and essence of it instead of just remembering word for word without understanding. Now I know how hard it can be, I personally I am not able to that altogether yet, so I am still juggling between both methods. Moreover, this mnemonic is really personal, as you already know we best remember by linking things to what we know or have experienced. So my mnemonic might not work for everyone. The goal here isn’t to help you learn my mnemonic but more so to show you how it can be done so that you can create your own.

So this is how it’s done:

The Gravel Walks by Seamus Heaney

River gravel. In the beginning, that.

High summer, and the angler’s motorbike

Deep in roadside flowers, like a fallen knight

Whose ghost we’d lately questioned: ‘Any luck’?

First you close your eyes and you picture a river. That river contains water, as we all know it water from the river looks blue when seen from afar, so you get closer to that river and the water becomes transparent, through it you see gravels. River gravel

Then you take a book, you open it to the first page, usually a first page novel could begin with Once upon a time…, so you can picture a letter O or B, for beginning, in a decorative/medieval way and you place that river gravel on that first page, which then becomes imprinted on that page. In the beginning, that.

Now you look up to the sky by raising your head, literally. You see a clouded pink sky. Usually when the sky is pinkish, near sunset time, we call it an indian summer. High summer.

Now through those clouds appear a motorbike, it’s very modern, futuristic even and Ernest Hemingway is driving it. Why him? Because an angler is a sort of fisherman, I don’t know any but I do know the novel ‘The Old man and the Sea’ written by Hemingway, I think it’s his best novel, I personally love it, he lived in Key West (coastal area), so I can easily picture him as a fisherman/angler… , and the angler’s motorbike

Now you picture a roadside flower, near a road that the angler could use to ride his motorbike. So the angler tries to land his ‘flying’ motorbike on the road but falls instead into the roadside flowers. There he lies on the floor, lifeless with the motorbike. Deep in roadside flowers

By falling into the roadside flowers, his soul/ghost falls into the underworld, the earth (ground) right under the flowers, where you can see worms and roots, deep deep down he falls. And he motorbike falls as well but becomes a horse which the angler’s ghost is riding. Like a fallen knight

Then you, yourself, come up to this fallen knight with a shamrock in your hand asking him ‘Any luck?’. Whose ghost we’d lately questioned: ‘Any luck’

This is for the first strophe. Please let me know what you think of my mnemonic and if you would like more examples for the rest of the poem.

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