« IndietroContinua »
Full fresh and fair thy wreath to-day, old Newark's ivied tower ;
THE ROSE OF ETTRICK : Henry Cholmondeley-Pennell.
OH, somewhere, somewhere, God unknown, exist and be!
A LAST APPEAL: Myers.
The SEASON: Hood. ANY requests have come to the School of Expression for I l lessons by mail. All teaching of Expression is personal, and even with individual attention it is difficult to explain faults and exercises. No case therefore has been undertaken by mail. Since, however, there are so many who have no opportunities for instruction, an effort will be made to lay out a series of very simple and practical lessons.
Students must remember that all true expression must result from self-study and hard work. These lessons, therefore, must necessarily furnish some simple exercises, something to be actually done. A series of simple tests must also be given, so that the student can see what to do, and what he may possibly do. It is necessary to awaken an ideal, so that he may compare what he does with what he ought to do. In the very act of doing something in several ways, or two different things side by side, discoveries can be made. world, you would have to go away alone and practise so as to apply all to yourself. You must discover things for yourself.
Students often come to a teacher and say, “I have found out something;” and it turns out to be what the teacher had been trying to teach for several lessons: there must be self-study in all cases. Art consists in doing. We first know, secondly we do, and thus we become.
All expression is founded upon the study of nature. We must become conscious, and observe closely our own natural modes in those moments of our lives when we are most ourselves.
Read over several times two of the preceding extracts, or take two on page 39, “ Classics for Vocal Expression.” Try to get the spirit of each, gradually assimilating the two situations, until the expression of each becomes more satisfactory. As they become true, they will become different; it is only mechanical art that makes everything alike. A hundred buttons can be made so that one can hardly be told from another; but there are no two leaves or blades of grass in all the world alike. Everything that grows or is natural has a character of its own.
Thus, by bringing two widely different emotions into contrast, we are able to test our genuineness or simplicity, the degree of assimilation, and the real truthfulness of our expression.
The simplest extract may be given in such a way that the deepest joy and the most intense sorrow are exactly alike. This can only result when the attitude of the mind is mechanical, when the process of the thought is not genuinely produced, and the imagination is not at all active, and when there is no responsiveness on the part of the feelings.
Every act of mind causes an act of voice or body ; every activity of feeling causes a modulation of the texture of the muscles and of the voice. To make these changes subtle and immediate, that every change in thought and feeling shall simply but decidedly modulate the voice and the body, is the aim of all training in expression,
Whenever any one gives joy and sorrow just alike, his expression is untruthful. He either drifts in reading, is stagy, ministerial, declamatory, or in some way stilted and unnatural. On the other hand, all changes must obey the law of unity. Variety for the sake of variety is chaos. Simply to make changes by direct action of will is to be false. While every leaf on the tree is different from every other leaf, the differences are very subtle. We never find the oak leaf upon the willow.
Mere changes are not the aim; the aim is for genuineness. Whenever there is any real assimilation of the spirit of an idea, its expression will be distinct and peculiar. Aggregated actions or changes are not expressive, but directly antagonistic to expression.
Clouds and darkness are round about him:
Righteousness and judgment are the foundation of his throne. If these two lines in Psalm Ninety-seven are read over, they seem at first to be identical in meaning and to contain the same emotion ; it is simply an instance of Hebrew parallelism. But if we think over them for some time, we find that though the subject is the same, the point of view is different. One line expresses gloom, the other expresses faith ; one shows the dark side, the other the bright. It is Hebrew parallelism, but it is parallelism by contrast.
Now, in reading the verse, the subtle contrast, this opposition in feeling, should be shown. If the mind really comprehends the idea, and the sympathies of the man are identified with the two points of view, the voice will change its texture in passing from one idea to the other. When they are read monotonously, as they usually are, the main point, the real thought and feeling of the verse, is not only not interpreted, but is, in fact, often completely lost. Such changes and subtle contrasts occur in almost every verse of the Bible. The same is true of nearly every great poem in the language.
In the “ Petrified Fern,” Classics for Vocal Expression, page 81, there is a very marked example of contrast. There is first an
long ages, and portrayed in a sympathetic way. It is then contrasted with avalanches, monster fishes, and the geological upheavals of the surface of the world. One who reads over the poem, and gives all the ideas with about the same weight and feeling, is tame and tedious. All thinking starts with discrimination ; and the giving of each idea its own true character manifests the spirit of the poem and dominates the attention of others.
In the practice of such exercises, the student should not think about how to make such changes; he should study the whole poem, feel each idea in succession, and in contrast where there is a contrast to the preceding idea. Great changes in themselves are not necessarily expressive. Harmony is the reconciliation of opposites, and unity is showing the sympathetic opposition between ideas. All must be given with simplicity and ease. The more simple, the more genuine we are, the more do we reveal such contrasts.
JAMES. WHITCOMB RILEY.1 EARLY all the poets of the Old World and the New have I sought their inspiration in the classic founts of Greece or Rome, the myths of Northern Europe, or the fabulous tales of the Middle Ages.
Tennyson, it is said, is at his best in the “ Idylls of the King," — Launcelot and Guinevere, with other romantic legends of King Arthur and his knights of the Round Table. Our own Longfellow is under the influence of Scandinavian folk lore and Indian tradition; Oliver Wendell Holmes, the gay and witty poet of society, wrote too much “swallow-tailed” poetry to rank him among the immortals; Edgar Allan Poe seemed satisfied with a weird and mystical jingle of sounds; and Walt Whitman mistook eccentricity for naturalness.
James Whitcomb Riley, “the country poet,” draws his inspiration direct from Nature and the human heart. He comes to us as the boy on the farm comes from the old well in the meadows, spilling his pitcher of song along the way.
1 First given in the extemporaneous-speaking class.
This unique and unrivalled genius is a native of the Hoosier State. Boyhood and early manhood were passed working on a farm in Indiana and rambling through the neighboring villages. Many a day he dreamed away in the meadow, listening listlessly, yet learning the birds' songs, and stocking the palette of his poetic imagination with all the colors of the landscape, till finally he took the music of the brook, the sweet-scented soul of the clover, the solos of the birds, and all the symphonies of field and wood, and wove them into happy words.
Astride the rail fence, talking with the fellow at the plough, chatting with the boys at the country store, visiting as a friend the families for miles around, he learned all there was in this miniature yet model world; he learned to know and love and sympathize with the people he met; and then he added to his poet's harp the heart-strings of men, women, and children.
He writes of the real world, the ideal world, of the plain yet princely people whom he knew; these are the people who have walked and talked in Riley's life, and they are the men he puts into his verse. He never leaves his own home for his landscape, nor his own acquaintances for the characters of his song. Their faces shine and smile through it all; it is their laughter, their sorrows and joys, -- it is their fields and farms and homes, the familiar spots of his own Hoosier home, -- that he writes of, and somehow he appeals to all the world.
“One touch of Riley makes the whole world kin." Such poems as “Knee Deep in June,” “ The Days Gone By," and " The Orchard Lands of Long Ago,” are the experiences and dreams of us all, idealized and glorified; while “Old John Henry," «William Leachman,” “Man by the Name of Bolus,” and many others, are men who pass and repass us all our days, immortalized