How to Recite Right

old scholar
An Old Scholar Sharpening his Pen by Gerrit Dou

 

How to Recite Right

“A poem that never has thoughts within lines, but which carries each phrase and each sentence about between one line and next, as its structure is cut into sliver and strand that looks hard to read out”

No.  You’ve done that wrong.
This is a poem – notice the lines.
They’re not just there to say this is a poem,
Or to make for pretty layout designs.
They are there to guide us along;
This is crucial – notice the pause –
The extra beats we don’t say, but we know ’em,
That little silence that underscores.
And the rhymes, the heart of the song,
Don’t bury them all in the throng.
So once again, and let ’em come strong –

“A poem that
never has thoughts within
lines but which carries
each phrase and each
sentence about between one
line and next as its
structure is cut into
sliver and
strand that looks
hard to read
out”

No, you’re still not that tight how you’re fitting it,
No, it’s still not quite right how you’re hitting it,
You’ve really gotta recite as they’ve written it,
There’s no need to fight it to get it to knit –
The breaks, the breaks,
That break up each sentence
In separate takes
Of its clauses and thoughts.
Look to the breaks as the structure and entrance,
And look to the pauses that each line supports.
Trust in the poet not to blow it, but to know,
How to slow it, how to go it, and to show it all so.
Follow their signs, let their lines set the flow –

“A poem that never has
Lines within lines, but
Which carries each phrase and
Each sentence about
Between one line and next as
Its structure is cut
Into sliver and strand
That looks hard to read out”

 

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