I require my Advanced Poetry Workshop students to memorize and recite 2 poems, each at least 14 lines, one pre-20th century, one more recent. I'd like to begin making this requirement more of a careful recitation than a fumbling memory exercise. Too often, the memory work is a fight to the finish, a halting plod through the poem. Instead, I'd like it to be a performance that others can appreciate and applaud. I tell them that once they've memorized a poem well, they carry it around with them always, and no one can take it away from them.
I like being able to call to mind Richard Wilbur's "Merlin Enthralled" or John Donne's "A Valediction Forbidding Mourning" or Shakespeare's "That time of year thou mayest in me behold" whenever I want.
I admire poets who can recite their own work at length. I have committed only a couple of my poems to memory but should work on others.