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The purple vintage long is past, with ripened clusters
bursting so They filled the wine-vats to the brim—’t is strange you
will be thirsting so !
For who can tell by what he likes what other people's
fancies are ? How all men think the best of wives their own par.
ticular Nancies are ! If what I sing you brings a smile, you will not stop
to catechise, Nor read Bæotia's lumbering line with nicely scanning
Though on the once unfurrowed brows the harrow-teeth
of Time may show, Though all the strain of crippling years the halting
feet of rhyme may show, We look and hear with melting hearts, for what we all
remember is The morn of Spring, nor heed how chill the sky of
gray November is.
Thanks to the gracious powers above from all mankind
that singled us, And dropped the pearl of friendship in the cup they
kindly mingled us, And bound us in a wreath of flowers with hoops of
steel knit under it; Nor time, nor space, nor chance, nor change, nor death
himself shall sunder it !
The extent to which imitative reading, or the suiting of sound to sense, may properly be carried, in certain classes of selections, is a matter in regard to which there is a diversity of opinion among elocutionists. It is one of those questions of taste that cannot be regulated by definite directions applicable to all cases. Some general principles, however, may be laid down, from which there is no intelligent dissent.
The style of reading should be imitative in the sense of making it conform to the spirit and meaning of the piece.
In the utterance of words in which the sound seems to approximate to the sense, such as buzz, hiss, thunder, groan, sigh, scream, etc., the tone may be suggestive of the idea. Thus, in reading such passages as,
“From his lips escaped a groan," though an actual groan would be ridiculous, the word "groan" may be uttered so as to suggest a groan.
1. Hear the loud alàrum bells—brázen bells.
On the bosom of the palpitating air ! Wherever the author distinctly suggests an imitation, it should be given so far as is consistent with good taste. Thus, when Longfellow writes,
“ And loud that clarion voice replied,”
it is evident that the refrain, “Excelsior !” should be given in a loud, clear, resonant manner.
EXAMPLES FOR PRACTICE. 1. A voice replied far up the height, “ Excelsior ! ” 2. She seemed in the same silver tones to say,
“Passing away, passing away!" 3. What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous
bird of yore
Meant in croaking, "Nevermore." 4. An ancient time-piece says to all,
“Forever-never! Never-forever!” 5. “To all the truth we tell, we tell,”
Shouted in ecstasies a bell.
How the bayonets gleamed and glistened, as we looked
far down and listened To the trampling and the drum-beat of the belted gren
adiers. Over heaps all torn and gory—shall I tell the fearful
story, How they surged above the breastwork as a sea breaks
o'er a deck; How, driven, yet scarce defeated, our worn-out men
retreated, With their powder-horns all emptied, like the swimmers
from a wreck!
Imitation should not be too literal. The attempt is sometimes made in reading Tennyson's “Bugle Song,” to give a realistic imitation of the notes of a bugle. While the professional reader may attempt such a feat of vocal gymnastics, it is certainly outside of the limits of good taste in school reading. The words, “Blow,
, bugle, blow,” may be given with a prolonged swell, and in a thin, clear, pure tone, so as to suggest the bugle note.
So in reciting Poe's “Bells,” the imitative rendering is often carried to a ridiculous extreme. In these and similar cases it is not a literal reproduction of the sound that should be attempted, but an artistic and idealized suggestion of it.
1. And grummer, grummer, grummer,
Through the morn.
I hear them fainter, fainter still.
When klingle, klangle, klingle,
The cows are coming home;
And thus from morn to eve he cried,
“ Charco'! charco'!”
"Charco' !"_“Hark, O!"
"Ah, go!"_"Ah, go !”
8. Hear the sledges with the bells-silver bells ! What a world of mèrriment their melody foretells !