Day Zero Project · Poetry

Memorise A Poem – A Day Zero Challenge

One of my Day Zero challenges is to learn a poem off by heart.

I decided it had to be a new poem (to me at least) so that I’d had to indulge in reading some poetry to find one I wanted to learn. I have a selection of poetry books on my shelves including children’s classics (such as Spike Milligan), A. E. Housman, John Betjamin, Willam Blake, W. B. Yeats, T. S. Eliot and Andrew Fusek Peters most of which I have barely opened so this challenge has made me pick them up and start reading.

The poem I have decided to learn is Down By The Salley Gardens by W. B. Yeats because I read it a good couple of weeks ago and it keeps on popping back into my head. I won’t pretend that I understand exactly what it’s going on about but the imagery in it struck a chord in my head and that, for me, makes it a worthy poem to learn.

It goes as follows:

‘Down by the salley gardens my love and I did meet;

She passed the salley gardens with little snow-white feet.

She bid me take love easy, as the leaves grow on the tree;

But I, being young and foolish, with her would not agree.


In a field by the river my love and I did stand,

And on my leaning shoulder she laid her snow-white hand.

She bid me take life easy, as the grass grows on the weirs;

But I was young and foolish, and now am full of tears.’


I think it’s beautiful and I seem to get something more out of it each time I read it. Hopefully with a bit of practice it will soon be stored away in my memory with the only other two poems I have managed to learn off by heart: The Ducks Ditty from Wind in the Willows (Mum and I used to recite that on a morning when we crossed the bridge over the river on the way to school) and Blue Remembered Hills from A. E. Housman’s A Shropshire Lad (which I learned during my A-Level drama course when we were performing Dennis Potter’s play Blue Remembered Hills).

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