Vertical & Horizontal Linked Lists To Memorise Poetry/Text

I wondered about folk’s success and experiences with possibly using multiple lists to memorize poetry, specifically using more than one vertically and intersecting ones horizontally.

My approach to poetry (understandable works, not old English type poetry), and with which I’ve had most success, has been to find a way to process it quickly to build an initial memory data structure i.e., on the Subway to the City. Which is simply picking out, ideally, action words (verbs); failing that nouns and then adjectives in the first part of a sentence (i.e. the first 5 words). Simply underlining them works well and fast. From here I build an action image based linked list of these and commit to memory to remind me of a given line. For instance, the word “trusting” might be “a thrusting person” or “lying” might be “Pinocchio’s nose growing”. The standard mnemonic techniques.

This is usually insufficient to memorize a line verbatim, but enough to trigger what its about (in the those first few words) and to act as an index for orientation. So, on another reading/session I’ll build a second vertical linked list (ie one image link for each line) for action words, nouns or adjectives (in that order of preference) later in a line (ie last 5 words or after a conjunction), and commit to memory.

Now I will have two vertical linked lists covering the key action in the poetry at two “timing” points (or nouns/adjectives if verbs couldn’t be picked out). For me, these act as the bare minimum to be able to “sometimes” remember lines verbatim.

So, from here, I’ll create horizontal link lists for each line by parsing the poetry to give me: either image links for each word (fine-grain) or words that can be grouped, for instance “groups of repeating words” in the poetry (coarse-grain) - lines in poetry often start the same. These horizontal link lists representing each line will obviously intersect at two points with the two learned vertical linked lists. Language compilers work in a similar fashion when parsing code to build the symbol table(s) and other data structures. This is more like completing a crossword however over time.

Then learning all the horizontal lists and knowing the vertical lists allow verbatim recall I find and allow the poetry to navigated with ease in your head and to give triggers as to what its about.

The usefulness of the the two vertical lists, besides giving a means to process the poetry initially and a methodical starting point that can be repeated and followed time and time again (ie algorithm), is they give entry points into a given horizontal list. And which then can be worked backwards or forwards from either entry point. And, if the latter part of a horizontal list is forgotten the second vertical list can be consulted as a backup.

It is particularly easy to switch and jump between lists as you like I’ve noted with practice, like how computers pause threads of execution. Using this is approach is not necessarily quick to translate to verbal verbatim, until a level of fluency and familiarity with the poetry is achieved, one has to think when learning it and recalling it verbatim. But recalling on paper in the early stages is particularly productive and flowing I note. The vertical lists can be noted down in margins if helpful, say in an exam, as reference points.

Anyway, I’ve digressed, the original point of this post was: I wondered about folk’s success and experiences with possibly using multiple lists to memorize poetry, specifically using more than one vertically and intersecting ones horizontally. Perhaps something like what I’ve described I do, as above. Or maybe you’ve improvements.

Interesting idea. I haven’t tried that, but I’ll think about it a bit.

For non-programmers, a “linked list” is analogous to the story/linking method. Each item only refers to the next item in the sequence (or also to the previous item, if it’s a doubly linked list).

If your mnemonic story is cat –> car –> apple, “cat” only links to “car”, and you might not be able to remember “apple” when starting at “cat” without going through the middle step, “car”.

With a memory journey (more like an “array” in computing), you can jump to any spot in the mnemonic sequence by index number. Example: “what is stored in the 25th location of the journey?” (easy with a memory journey, but more difficult with the story/linking method)