Every day, Poets.org, receives letters and emails from people trying to locate a forgotten poem. the questions come from people carrying single lines of verse with them, sometimes for years, who are eager to remember the rest of that particular poem. Here are some tips to help you locate the source of the memorable line that’s stuck with you.

1. Do your best to remember everything you can about the poem and what might be unique about it. Of course it's easiest if you know the author or the title, but in most cases it's also very simple to find a poem if you know the first line. If all you've got is a line or two from the middle, try to remember any unique words or turns of phrase.

2. Once you've plumbed your memory, you can start to search like the pros at poets.org: type whatever words (or phrases, with some or all words within quotation marks) you are sure of into the search box at Google.


"I think that I shall never see" poem tree
"joyce kilmer" trees
kilmer joyce never poem

All of these searches will lead you to Joyce Kilmer’s poem "Trees".

3. If the words you're using have more than one meaning (ie., a "bass"" can be a fish or a musical instrument), you can exclude certain meanings from your search by putting a minus sign ("-") immediately in front of the term you want to avoid. (Be sure to include a space before the minus sign.)

example, to find web pages about bass that do not contain the word "music", type:

bass -music

4. If none of the results look familiar, then try again with slight variations on the original search. (Maybe you've misremembered a word or two from the original?) You can use the synonym search on Google to help by placing a tilde sign (" ˜ ") immediately in front of the keyword.

For example, to search for general information on literature and writing as well as poetry facts, use:


5. If you're really stumped, head to your local library and talk to a reference librarian. They're equipped with the references and tools to help you find the rest of that long-lost poem.