A new study says that it does.
ADDitude Magazine sums up the fascinating and encouraging results when a group of first graders memorized "Paul Revere's Ride" and recited it for several weeks. Clara Hemphill writes,
When a first-grader struggles with reading, she's usually given the simplest material, books with one or two words per page. But what would happen if teachers upped the level of difficulty, rather than simplified it? One team of researchers wanted to find out, so it had a group of six-year-olds with dyslexia memorize Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's lengthy poem "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere." The results were astounding: The children made progress in both reading comprehension and fluency after reciting the poem daily for several weeks.
You can read the entire piece at the online version of ADDitude.
P.S., Your Neighborhood Librarian claims not to be participating in Poetry Friday, but you have to read her funny haiku. Haikues?