Now that I finally have a child, one of my enjoyable activities with him is to read to him before bed. The one problem I face is not in selecting poetry I want to read, but learning how to read it properly aloud. I’ve scanned Google for some suggestions. They all tell me what I already know. Don’t put too much emotion in it (over acting). Don’t pause at the line breaks – it makes it choppy. Basically they tell me not to do the thing I can’t seem to keep from doing!
I’ve always loved poetry and those who knew me back in my Los Alamos days know my tales of our Dead Poet’s Society. The Society was formed by my best friend, Rick Clawson, and I back in the early 90’s. We obviously patterned it on the film of the same name. While not an official church activity, all the young adults were invited. One had only to bring a flashlight or candle and a single poem. We had it in a different place every second Wednesday. One week on a mesa at the end of an ancient Indian trail overlooking the valley. The next in a mossy cliff beside the graveyard. An other up in the mountains. Each person would take turns reading their poems.
It was then that I realized my limitations. For while the poems with a strong natural rhythm I could recite at will, the rest left me stuttering. So Robert Service, William Blake, Lewis Carroll, and even Dr. Seuss were great, I struggled with Shakespeare, Browning, Donne and the others I really wanted to read.
So now there I was tonight, struggling with Hamlet’s soliloquy. The poem I really wish to read is Robert Browning’s “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came.”
Any help all you English majors out there? All the suggestions I’ve found merely tell me not to do what I do, not how to do it!