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There was little doubt — that the Lone Star claim was “played out.” Not dug out, — worked out, — washed out, — but played out. For two years — its five sanguine proprietors had gone through the various stages of mining enthusiasm ; — had prospected and planned, — dug and doubted. They had borrowed money with hearty but unredeeming frankness, -established a credit with unselfish abnegation of all responsibility, — and had borne the disap. pointment of their creditors with a cheerful resignation — which only the consciousness of some deep Compensating Future could give. Giving little else, however, - a singular dissatisfaction obtained with the traders, -and, being accompanied with a reluctance to make further advances, at last touched the gentle stoicism of the proprietors themselves. The youthful enthusiasm which had at first lifted the most ineffectual trial, the most useto the plane of actual achievement,
-died out, leaving them only the dull, prosaic record of half-finished ditches, - purposeless shafts,- untenable pits, — abandoned engines, and meaningless disruptions of the soil upon the Lone Star claim, and empty flour sacks and pork barrels in the Lone Star cabin. (Bret Harte: Left Out on Lone Star Mountain. From Frontier Stories.)
4. Time and study essential One should not attempt to read aloud at sight anything but simple forms of literature. Casual sight reading of poetry and the literature pregnant with meaning and feeling, the literature that appeals strongly to the imagination and emotions, can give at best but a vague and slight idea of its beauty and power. In preparing such literature for reading the student should endeavor to know the author's thought and experience and purpose as thoroughly as did the author himself. Only such study and analysis as will enable the reader to understand every shade of meaning, and to become imbued with the spirit of the piece as a whole, will suffice for the reading of our best literature.
Suppose you are to read the following lines from Byron's Childe Harold's Pilgrimage:
Roll on, thou deep and dark blue Ocean - roll!
He sinks into thy depths with bubbling groan,
Without a grave, unknelled, uncoffined, and unknown. The first thing to do is to get the sense of the whole stanza. Unless the interrelation of the various lines and the bearing of each upon all is understood, the full meaning of any single line will not be made clear by well-placed and purposeful emphasis. If, however, you know why the poet says, “ Ten thousand fleets sweep over thee in vain,” you will so speak the verse as to cause the listener to anticipate the explanation immediately following.
Man marks the earth with ruin - his control
The wrecks are all thy deed. It is not possible to illustrate such points adequately in writing. The voice alone can do that. But a little practice in reading the stanza aloud will make it evident that the lines can be clearly and truthfully read only when the reader sees the end from the beginning. Then the thought of each line will influence the utterance of every other line; all will be bound together in unity and singleness of purpose, because all are needed to convey the central idea of the stanza, that on the ocean the works of man, and even man himself, are subject to its power.
Take another example, this time from Shakespeare's Henry the Eighth. First, read the passage with emphasis as indicated, giving the speeches as direct, frank conversation between friends who do not question the honesty or integrity of each other.
You have said well.
King Henry. 'T is well said again!
And yet words are no deeds. Now this is such a rendering as might easily result from sight reading. A clear and definite meaning is given to the speeches, but a little scrutiny of them, even though one has no further knowledge of the situation than that gained from the lines, will make it apparent that it is not the meaning intended. Had the king, with positive emphasis on “ well,” expressed absolute confidence in Wolsey, the Cardinal would have been impelled to show gratitude to him for the recognition of his virtue of “ well saying.” But it is evident that the words of Henry were spoken in no complimentary tone, for Wolsey is put on the defensive and feels called to assert that his deeds, too, are worthy. But in his next speech the king reiterates his fair words in tones of double meaning. Instead of a conversation of undisguised confidence and good-will, analysis shows it to be one of sarcasm and irony in which Henry virtually charges Wolsey with dishonesty and treachery. King Henry.
You have said well.
'Tis well said again;
And yet words are no deeds. The above illustrations will perhaps be sufficient to show that reading aloud is a task requiring as thorough preparation and careful analysis and thought as any other study, and that good reading can only result from good preparation. When the writer means to convey a certain thought it is the reader's business to convey that thought, not another, and it is his duty to make sure that he understands what is written before he attempts to speak it. No doubt a good deal of the careless, inaccurate, and monotonous reading heard in the classroom is due to the notion, prevalent among students, that an open book and a fair ability to pronounce words are all that is necessary for reading any sort of literature.
5. Thinking during speech But thorough preparation and ready familiarity with what one reads is not all. It is possible to know a piece of prose or poetry so well, and to be so well rehearsed in it, that it may be repeated by rote, as one says the multiplication table while the mind is occupied with something else. Every one has heard lines repeated in a jingling “singsong” way, without significant pause or emphasis or other evidence that the speaker is thinking about what he is saying. The words follow each other in utterance by force of habit, while the mind may be busy with any number of different things. The boy who speaks “ The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,” when his mind is occupied with thoughts of his lunch, or the afternoon ball game, or his own discomfort as he stands before his fellows, is not likely to put life or reality into the line. Speech, to be convincing and genuine, must be the expression of active and present thinking. The skilled axeman uses the axe with the ease of long-practiced habit, yet every stroke must be consciously directed and delivered with energy, if it is to count and the chips made to fly. If reading is to have the convincing directness and force of living speech, the keen edge of the mind must be applied with vigor to every word and phrase and sentence when they are spoken.
6. Conversation the basis of natural style in reading
The influence of the action of the mind on the voice may be observed in all natural and unstudied utterance. In such speech every change in the tone and action of the voice means something. Speak the sentence, “Clear writers, like clear fountains, do not seem as deep as they are," and then mention as many expressive actions of the voice as you can. If you have spoken the sentence naturally, with clear knowledge of its ideas before you uttered the words, you will recall that you did not shout the words loudly, but spoke them with a moderate degree of vocal force; that you did not speak them as rapidly as possible, but with average rate of time; that there were some pauses, and a good deal of rising and falling of the voice throughout the sentence. In all these ways, and others which you may have noted, was your voice serving your mind and making known the thoughts that came to it in the words of the sentence. In conversation these significant variations of voice are unpremeditated. The speaker does not stop to consider them, nor is the listener conscious of them. The thought and the speaker's feeling are the things both are concerned about, and it is the thought that determines how the voice shall act. If the voice is disobedient, so much the worse for the thought, the speaker, and the listener.
Now, if the thought of what is read aloud were as defi nite as it is in conversation, and the desire as strong ta communicate it to others, there would be no great difference between the style of speech in reading and conversation. The person who can speak his own thoughts clearly, naturally, and pleasantly, would be able to read with the same clear, varied, and significant utterance. All depends on whether he makes the sense of the printed page his own, and whether he thinks as vigorously when reading as