« 前へ次へ »
or the grief one feels over the loss of a friend, would be no more displeasing and shocking than are conscious artificialities in speech, tone, or action in reading a poem. “There are no tricks in plain and simple faith.” It is this sort of thing, the striving for effect by extravagant efforts and feigned emotion, that has brought elocution under the suspicion and condemnation of people of taste and judgment and commor sense. Let the reader of earnest purpose first make sure of the thought of his author, that he himself is interested in it, and that his emotional response to it is consistent and genuine. Then, with that “ divine repression of self” which prompts one to “ do all gently," he may speak with real effectiveness and without fear of affectation or dishonesty.
22. Individuality in expression The acquirement of an honest and forceful style, true to the individual, implies diligent discipline of one's mind and one's self, coupled with a degree of modest self-reliance and faith in one's own judgment, intuition, feeling, and native manner of expression. As individuals differ in temperament, taste, and experience, the shades of meaning they get from words and their emotional response to them will differ. The word “Mother" awakens in each individual feelings similar in tenderness, devotion, and love, but the mental picture of voice and face and person will be different in each case, and the emotional response will vary in obedience to associations awakened. In like manner, the images and experiences called up in the mind of each by a line of poetry will not be identical, and no two persons, if true to their own thought and feeling, will read the line in exactly the same way.
In reading such a poem as Tennyson's Break, break break, for example, the imagination of each reader will build up a scene out of his own personal memories and subconscious associations which his experiences have given him. The sea, the rocks, the stately ships, the haven under the hill, the sailor lad singing in his boat, will constituti a picture in each mind unlike, in details at least, that held by any other. So, also, the intensity and quality of the mood of grief felt for one whose voice is forever stilled will vary according to personal experience, temperament, and sympathies. It follows, then, that two persons, reading the poem aloud for what it means to them, will not read alike. Each individual will read himself into the lines, voicing through them his own thoughts, his own soul. The most adequate reading, the reading truest to the spirit of the author will, of course, be given by the one whose experiences are most deep and rich, whose imagination and sympathies are quickest and most sensitive, and whose whole nature, voice, mind, and emotions, respond most readily to the spiritual appeal of the poem.
There have been a few excellent actors of Hamlet, but no two of them ever gave the part identical interpretations, The personality of the man, which is the result of all that nature and life have given him, determines his understanding and acting of the character. Each person, whether acting a part on the stage, reading a poem, or speaking his own thought, is revealing himself and his own character. “ Believe me,” says Archidamus in Shakespeare's Winter's Tale, “ I speak as my understanding instructs me and as mine honesty puts it to utterance.” Here is stated the fun. damental principle of convincing naturalness in speech. Upon this principle one may rest with confidence that one's utterance, whatever weaknesses or technical faults it may have, will at least be honest and true to the individual. And expression without sincerity and individuality is not impressive or forceful.
23. Imitation not true expression Some one has said that there are no two persons alike; if there are, one of them is of no account. It was Emerson who declared, " He is great who is what he is rom nature and never reminds us of others.” The most convincing and expressive speech springs from the very nature of the individual and never reminds us of others. It behooves each student to free his mind from the idea that the art of reading and speech can be learned by imitating some one else. It is an easy matter to prepare a phrase or line, a lesson, or a particular selection for reading, by imitating some one in speaking it, — and it saves time, but there is little profit or real training in allowing another person to do one's thinking and work. Strength, self-reliance and self-control are not gained that way. Let the student who would read and speak well resolve to speak not at all," as Carlyle said, “ until you have somewhat to say,” and to seek the counsel and criticism of the teacher who will help him to realize his best powers of mind and heart, and to gain self-control and self-reliance, to acquire a style of speech that shall be refined, normal, and true to him as an individual. Then, when the opportunity comes, he may speak with confidence as his “understanding instructs him and his honesty puts it to utterance.” But honest utterance does not result from imitating others.
24. Expression of feeling is normal A common difficulty in the attainment of that “emotional quality of style” which gives interest and force and commands attention is the aversion many have to expressing the feeling of what they read. This hesitancy to throw oneself into the spirit of a piece and to express its emotion is often the result of fear lest one seem to be striving for effect, or be thought unmanly or sentimental. But the inconsistency of this attitude is easily apparent. On the playground, or when a student is in earnest conversation with his associates on a topic about which he has convictions and in which he has strong personal interest, no such dread or hesitancy is evident. Nor would his friends think of poking fun at him or accusing him of sentimentality because of strong and even impulsive expression of his feelings. Whether he speaks with earnest, quiet utterance about the necessity of getting behind the team in the coming game, or shouts vehemently on the field during practice, he is not derided because of his enthusiasm and emotion.
Now, classroom reading and speaking is concerned with matters no less vital and real than are those of every
day sports and student affairs. Every worthy piece of literature is as true an expression of the thought and feeling of living human beings under various circumstances and conditions of life, as are the ejaculations and urgent conversations of those hours when one is free from the formalities and restraints of the more serious business of the classroom, and demands as honest, considerate, and spontaneous expression.
“ To conceal a sentiment," said Stevenson, “ if you know you have it, is to take a liberty with truth.” When one is sure one has the thought of a piece of literature and the spirit of it, it is hardly a mark of courage to repress utterance for fear of what others may think or say. And there is no need to fear. Gencine feeling, controlled and frankly expressed, commands respect. No apology is needed when one speaks feelingly of what one believes and enjoys. Good, honest reading demands that one be true to the spirit as well as the letter, and that the feeling as well as the thought be expressed steadily and truly. Every forceful speech and every impressive bit of reading derives power from the ardor and emotional energy of the speaker.
25. Earnestness of purpose Furthermore, to devote oneself with energy to what one reads or speaks is good evidence of earnest purpose, as, on the other hand, failure to give one's best powers is evidence of lack of interest and personal concern. The student who feels that what he has to speak, even though it be but a few lines from some poem or oration assigned for class practice, is worth speaking for itself, that it may be so spoken as to interest and give pleasure, and that the motive of all effective utterance is primarily to instruct and influence others, will find it easy to forget himself, his embarrassment and fears. A realization of the opportunity the occasion offers and the demand it makes often helps one to speak with force and spirit. Indeed, the desire to share with others what one thinks and believes and enjoys is a normal result of interest, conviction, and earnestness. “No man,” said the poet Shelley, “was ever yet convinced of a momentous truth without feeling within him the power as well as the desire to communicate it.” It might be truthfully added that any man who is convinced of a truth and feels no desire to communicate it is not the sort of man he ought to be. Eagerness to speak is a part of preparation for speech, and a very essential part.
If the reading lesson is thought of only as a perfunctory duty to be performed as a part of the routine grind of the day, the reading can hardly be spontaneous or spirited or worth much, even as training. The motive back of a piece of work determines the spirit that goes into it and the benefit to be derived from doing it. When the reading of a piece of literature is made the occasion for the mutual sharing of fine, interesting, and enjoyable thought, the exercise becomes a potent means of awakening and strengthening the mind, imagination, and emotions and of bringing them