Take and Read

The Reader's Feast

How to Read Poetry: Recitation

This is a short note on how to read poetry aloud. Many of us have never learned the joy of reading poetry out loud, and to some this can seem a daunting skill. If we want our child to learn to love poetry, we need to learn to read it well.

Leaving meaning aside for a moment, I want to make one plea. When a line ends without punctuation, keep reading it as through-composed, the line continuous. Keep extending the thought, even if it ends in rhyme. This will convey sense beyond the sing-song of rhyme and meter, and make the experience more pleasurable.

For example, in the familiar Daffodil Poem by William Wordsworth, one might be tempted to gallop through the iambic tetrameter in sing-song fashion, but if you read the following without pausing for the first line break at cloud, the sense is made more clear and the listening is more lovely:

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;

Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

–Daffodil Poem, William Wordsworth

Pay attention to this hint the next time you read poetry to your children, read it for the sense rather than the meter, and you will both be more satisfied.

Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us, therefore let us keep the Feast! JESUS IS RISEN, ALLELUIA.

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