Saturday, January 21, 2012

No, no Edward, not that way. No LIGHT propitious SHONE!

I think I feel more sympathetic towards Marianne Dashwood's view of 'insipid reading' now.  Imagine someone taking your favorite poem (or novel) and reading it in a monotone in the exciting parts, speeding it up it the parts where it needs to be read slowly to capture the poetic beauty, and emphasizing the wrong words.  Is this to be borne?  But it must not, it shall not be.

I normally love books from Librivox, what ever the reader, but not with poetry. To be sure, Marianne would give the insipid reader Cowper.  And I would give the insipid reader Longfellow.  But if he is not to be inspired by Longfellow!

Imagine a reader, (two different readers actually) blundering their way through Evangeline and Excelsior.  But no, it is not Evangeline, it seems to be 'Evangelyn.'  And in the best passage, when even the most-hard-hearted reader must be melted to tears by the pathetic beauty, what does the reader do but speed up!  A woman is not quietly moving about a hospital at last finding her lover!  Oh no, you read it quickly so as to make you imagine the same lover is going to come up with a shotgun.  And when there is a word with a line all to itself and an exclamation mark behind it - an exclamation mark, mind you - then the only thing to do is to drop your voice and read it in a monotone.  Of course.

Moral of the story: read poetry to yourself. 

This is one of my favorite poems.  Beautiful, symbolistic, hauntingly simple.  Don't just skim through it (like I often do) but read it slowly.  Memorize it, preferably.

Evangeline (Introduction)
This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks,
Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight,
Stand like Druids of eld, with voices sad and prophetic,
Stand like harpers hoar, with beards that rest on their bosoms.
Loud from its rocky caverns, the deep-voiced neighboring ocean
Speaks, and in accents disconsolate answers the wail of the forest.
This is the forest primeval; but where are the hearts that beneath it
Leaped like the roe, when he hears in the woodland the voice of the huntsman?
Where is the thatch-roofed village, the home of Acadian farmers,—
Men whose lives glided on like rivers that water the woodlands,
Darkened by shadows of earth, but reflecting an image of heaven?
Waste are those pleasant farms, and the farmers forever departed!
Scattered like dust and leaves, when the mighty blasts of October
Seize them, and whirl them aloft, and sprinkle them far o'er the ocean.
Naught but tradition remains of the beautiful village of Grand-Pré.
Ye who believe in affection that hopes, and endures, and is patient,
Ye who believe in the beauty and strength of woman's devotion,
List to the mournful tradition still sung by the pines of the forest;
List to a Tale of Love in Acadie, home of the happy.

Now go and read the rest, especially the ending passage.  Beautiful.

P.S. Just to be honest, the audio recording wasn't that bad.  Perhaps not quite as insipid and ridiculous and I mentioned, but bad enough to keep me from listening to poetry aloud.  Unless I read it, of course. :P


Jessica said...

Sooo true so true Libravox is a beautiful idea - just not for me!

Melody said...

Oh dear! If I tell you my opinions on poetry you shall never like me again!


Rachelle said...


I'm so glad that you've joined the MOHL I Peter project. I "re-discovered" your blog today and the first thing that I see is my Daring December button on your sidebar! What a delightful surprise! :)

Thank you, friend! And I look forward to getting to know your lovely blog more.

Emily said...

Oh dear, I have just realized how very right you are! I always thought Marianne was overreacting just a little bit in that scene *cough* but now I come to realize I am the girl who has returned every copy of Jane Austen's novels in story cd form to the library because I didn't think they were reading it right. *laughs* but really! Their voices were...scratchy! How can you listen to those beautiful words being read by a voice that grates terribly on ones ears, I ask you?

Maria Elisabeth said...

Yes, it is a beautiful idea, you just have to make sure you like the readers. If you do, than it really enhances your appreciation.

I'm guessing that you have some horrible opinions about poetry, such as NOT LIKING LONGFELLOW. :P
Don't worry, I have to survive with a brother who thinks Evangeline is about the worst poem ever made, and I still like him, so you're safe.

I really enjoyed your 'Daring December' and I'm glad you've rediscovered my blog. I actually took the button off, because I just realized that is isn't December, :P but I'm adding your blog to my sidebar.

Scratchy voices, how awful. Most of my audio CDs have been better. Nice British accents and no scratchy voices.
On a side note, you might enjoy Jane Austen's novels on Librivox read by Elizabeth Klett, which I really like. I think she's done most of them.

Emily said...

Thank you so much for the suggestion! I've copied the name so that I can look them up later! I'm actually really excited to try them out since I've been looking for a good version on CD (something that I can knit or draw while listen to, you know.)