I struggle, especially in poetry and older English books, with comprehension and I think one of the biggest problems is that I lose track of the subject that is in view during long passages that distract from the subject before returning to it. As an example, in the poem "The Raven" (1780) by William Cowper:

A Raven, while with glossy breast
Her new-laid eggs she fondly press'd,
And, on her wicker-work high mounted,
Her chickens prematurely counted
(A fault philosophers might blame,
If quite exempted from the same),
Enjoy'd at ease the genial day;

By the time I get down to the last line I've quoted I've forgotten about the Raven and so I'm clueless as to who is enjoying the genial day. Then I have to stop and re-read to figure out that the raven is enjoying the day. Is this simply a matter of focus? Are there ways of getting better at reading passages like this without losing track of the subject and thus not having to re-read?

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While I think the real answer is practice, I certainly follow such texts better than I used to years ago, you can probably use strategies like marking up text as you go. This calls your attention very specifically to the subject, which should itself help you to remember, but also makes it easier to glance back quickly to remind yourself.

I know that not everyone wants to mark up their books, if you have copies that you are sensitive about, you might be able to buy a cheap copy to mark up, or you could explore using sticky notes, writing very lightly in pencil, jotting down the subject of each sentence on a separate sheet of notepaper as you go, you could get a sheet of acetate and draw a box on it that you can place to highlight the keyword temporarily, make a cardboard bookmark and cut a little window in it that you can use to highlight the subject... the possibilities are endless.

I suspect that you wouldn't have to spend very long using any of these practices for remembering the word to become second nature to you.

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