« AnteriorContinuar »
called sing song,' arises from the use of a wrong inflection at the end of the second line.
The sense is usually left incomplete, or there is a continuance or connexion of thought, which requires the rising slide, at the close of this line; and when these reasons for this inflection do not exist, the principle of the prevalence of the rising inflection in poetry, -mentioned in the rules on inflection, -would still require it, in most instances. The structure of the common metre stanza, makes this inflection peculiarly important to harmony. The closing syllable of the second line contains the sound which is to be repeated for rhyme at the end of the fourth line; and if the former terminates with the same inflection as the latter, (which it must do if the falling slide is used in the former,) there is a kind of mocking echo, produced by the repetition of the inflection; and this mechanical correspondence is rendered peculiarly striking and disagreeable, by the additional influence of the rhyme, which takes away all possibility of the fault being obscured by any shade of variety in the sound of syllables.
The bad effect of this echoing inflection, is farther heightened, in most instances, by the reader overlooking the fact, that, in the progress of the stanza, more force and depth of sentiment usually become perceptible in the third line; requiring, therefore, a lower pitch at its commencement, than the prevailing strain of the first and second lines. The neglect of an appropriate lowering of the note at this point, leaves the voice to drift out of the stanza on the same note nearly with that of the opening strain. Here is an additional cause of the unhappy effect of the echoing notes, at the close of the stanza, as compared with the end of the second line. To the unnecessary sameness of inflection, and the unavoidable sameness of rhyme, is added a perfect sameness of note in both cases ;-all which would be avoided by attending to the proper inflection at the close of the second line, and the true pitch at the beginning of the third. The mocking or echoing cadence would thus be avoided.
The effect of the above fault will be perceived by reading the following stanzas with the falling inflection instead of the rising, at the end of the second line, and keeping the same pitch on the last two lines as on the first two. "But not when the death-prayer is said,
The life of life departs;
Its beauty in our hearts.
Like fragrance fill the room;
Come brightening from the tomb." RULE. Poetry should be read more slowly than prose, - with a moderate prolongation of vowel and liquid sounds,—with a slight degree of musical utterance,in exact time, as prescribed by the emotion expressed in given passages, and by the nature of the verse. The utterance should indicate the metre, but should never render it prominent; and, in rhyming lines, the rising inflection should generally terminate the first; the falling being carefully avoided, unless when indispensable to force of emotion, or to the completion of sense not connected with subsequent expression.
SUGGESTIONS FOR PRACTICE. The fault of rapidity may be most easily corrected by the pupil reading along with the teacher; the exercise being simultaneously performed. This practice may be continued till the proper rate of utterance is attained in simultaneous reading. The learner may, in his next stage of progress, read after the teacher, till he acquire such a command of his voice that he can read in the slowest style of utterance that any piece may require. This gradation of exercise may be transferred to the practice of whole classes; and stanzas suited to this purpose may be selected and arranged in such a succession as to produce, in one order, a gradual quickening of voice, and in another, a gradual retarding of it.
The different rates of utterance which are most frequently required, are the following: Slowesti - The bell strikes one. --We take no note of
Here stands the oak, the monarch of the wood.
And told the secrets of the world unknown." Moderate : 6 But who the melodies of morn can tell ?
The wild brook babbling down the mountain side;
The hum of bees, and linnet's lay of love,
Now bound aloft with vigorous spring, then glance
Rapid along: with many-coloured rays
As on the mountain turf I lie;
Now, even now, my joys run high.” These exercises may be read backward, as a discipline of the voice in retarding utterance. The examples may then be read singly and taken at random, with a view to aid the learner in carrying a distinct conception of rate in his mind, so as to apply it when occasion requires.
The fault of prosaic utterance arises either from the want of a lively conception of the beauty of the objects which poetry presents to the mind, or from a want of 'ear' for the effect of poetic numbers.—The former source of error may be done away by conversation between the teacher and the pupil, on the pieces which are read. Such conversation may be led by questions from the teacher, on the nature and character of the objects which are described, or of the events which are related, in the passage which is read as an exercise. Skilful management in this way may prepare the mind of the reader for a full and natural expression of thought by the voice.*
The want of ear for poetic tone requires attention to considerations more mechanical, and will occasion a necessity for frequent, particular, and minute illustration and explanation, on the part of the teacher. The difference between the appropriate tones of poetry
* A preliminary analysis of this sort may be performed in answer to such questions as the following : “ What are the chief ohjects, incidents, or sentiments, introduced in this piece, paragraph, or stanza ?"
" What effect have these on the mind, or what feelings do they produce ? " What are the tones of voice that express these feelings?”
and those of prose, must be exemplified; and if the teacher possesses any knowledge of music, it will be found very serviceable, as a source of illustration in this department.*
The faults of a swelling and chanting utterance may be corrected by requiring of the pupil a previous reading of every exercise, in the tone of prose; and, to facilitate this discipline, a certain number of lines may be written off in the prose form, so as to aid the ear through the eye. When the tone of poetry is added, it should, especially at first, go but little beyond that of
prose, and thence be gradually, but carefully increased, till it attain the full expression of poetic utterance.
Errors in time may be best corrected by a very slow and almost chanting tone, accompanied by a beat marking the time as in music. This exercise must at first be performed in conjunction between the pupil and the teacher; it may afterwards be repeated after the teacher; and, when sufficient progress has been made, it may be performed by the pupil alone.
The faults of mechanical manner in the final and cæsural pause, are to be corrected by regarding only the true rhetorical pause, or by observing that of the punctuation, and by adverting to the nature of the pause required by the versification, so as to discriminate the demi-cæsura from the complete cæsura, and the short, double cæsural from the long, single cæsu
The errors arising from too close an observance of metre, may be corrected by resorting, at first, to the manner of prose reading; writing off for this purpose, if necessary, a number of lines or stanzas as prose, on which to practise. Something of the prose tone may be retained as long as there is any risk of the tone of verse becoming too perceptible to the ear. The right point at which to stop, in proceeding from the prosaic tone towards that which becomes faulty, if carried to the opposite extreme, is a thing which
* Much assistance will be derived here from Dr. Rush's Philos. ophy of the Voice, or from a clear and practical compend by Dr. Barber, entitled, A Grammar of Elocution.