Rune poems were/are used to help in the memorization of the runes names and meanings. They date to the "Viking Age" and before. There are four that are commonly referenced today.
The idea behind the poems is as a mneumonic memory aid. This is easily illustrated by asking someone what letter comes after 'P' in the alphabet. It is often easier to remember what letter follows another if you run through the alphabet than if you try to come up with the answer from nothing. (BTW, the answer is 'Q'.)
The poems are arranged into stanzas. Each stanza representing, and starting with, a single rune. Most of the stanzas also contain ideas or images of what the rune represents.
Note: My original intention was to have the original text of each stanza side-by-side with the english translation. Unfortunatly, the html I used didn't render that way.
The Old Icelandic Rune Poem
The Old Norse Rune Poem
The Anglo-Saxon Rune Poem
These poems are hundreds of years old, the authors unknown to us now. However, the text and translations come from http://www.northvegr.org/lore/runes/index.html.