Poetry Aloud

I was in Chicago and decided to re-read Wordsworth’s great epic, The Prelude. Some two hundred odd pages of genius and I chose to… not exactly to read it aloud, but more to mutter the words to myself, so I could hear them (my child noticed me doing that and began doing that herself, stealing my copy of Ben Jonson’s poems and pretending to mutter the words aloud in an Old Navy; luckily, she doesn’t actually understand the lecher’s saucy and scatalogical jibes).

For Wordsworth, it wasn’t about rhyme, but meter. I needed to hear the meter.

The Ben Jonson I mentioned, was about the rhyme, because pronunciations are different.

I love Byron’s elegiac, So we’ll go no more a roving, but unless your accent is much different than mine, you don’t naturally pronounce ‘roving’ and ‘loving’ with the same ‘o,’ but Byron did. For me, only by reading it somewhat aloud, so I can hear myself tweak the sound to make the rhyme truly work, can I appreciate it.

Ben Jonson, being some two hundred years before Byron, requires it even more.

It slows my reading down, but that’s not such a bad thing.

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