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EXAMPLES FOR PRACTICE.
WITH NOTES AND COMMENTS GIVEN BY PROF. RAYMOND
TO HIS PUPILS.*
BY N. P. WILLIS.
There is a melancholy music in autumn. The leaves float sadly about with a look of peculiar desolation, waving capriciously in the wind, and falling with a just audible sound, that is a very sigh for its sadness. And then, when the breeze is fresher, though the early autumn months are mostly still, they are swept on with cheerful rustle over the naked harvest-fields, and about in the eddies of the blast; and though I have sometimes, in the glow of exercise, felt my life securer in the triumph of the brave contest, yet in the chill of the evening, or when any sickness of the mind or body was on me, the moaning of those withered leaves has pressed down my heart like a sorrow, and the cheerful fire, and the voices of my many sisters, might scarce remove it.
* In the following pieces, Italics are used to indicate various degrees of emphasis, not as in every case calling for the full force of emphasis usually indicated by such type. Where it is especially strong, attention is called to the fact in the notes. Except in special cases, it has not been deemed necessary to indicate the rising and falling inflections, or the different degrees of pitch, Professor Raymond having given ample rules for their use.
As these selections are intended for class drill, it has been thought advisable to subjoin to each paragraph or stanza the notes explanatory of its meaning, of the inflections, etc., instead of placing such notes at the bottom of the page.
This sketch is an example of dainty poetical prose. It has no great range of thought or sentiment, and is, therefore, an excellent exercise for obtaining sweet and graceful effects by delicate shades of expression-by slight varying of tone and pitch, by suggestion, not imitation, of musical sound. There are no strong emphases. The voice should not bear down on any of the words, nor should it be elevated, but conversational in tone. The first two sentences should express a pensive sentiment. In the third, the opening clauses should be given more briskly and cheerfully; in the last two clauses, the pensive tone is resumed. Emphasis on the word following like,” and similar terms of comparison, is generally strong, as in “like a sorrow.”'
Then for the music of winter. I love to listen to the falling of snow. It is an unobtrusive and sweet music. You may temper your heart to the serenest mood by its low murmur. It is that kind of music that only obtrudes upon your ear when your thoughts come languidly. You need not hear it, if your mind is not idle. It realizes my dream of another world, where music is intuitive, like a thought, and comes, only when it is remembered.
The second sentence should be given in a delicate, graceful tone. Emphasis falls on "music" in the third sentence, because of an implied negative. Snow makes a very faint sound in falling. One might insist that it has no sound, and be answered. “Yes, it hias a music; you'll hear it if you'll listen to it.” In the sixth sentence, the clause, “ you need not hear it,” should be given a little faster than what precedes or follows. In the last sentence, a very short panse should follow “comes."
And the frost, too, has a melodious“ ministry.” You will hear its crystals shoot in the dead of a clear night, as if the moonbeams were splintering like arrows on the ground; and you would listen to it the more earnestly, that it is the going-on of one of the most cunning and beautiful of nature's deep mysteries. I know nothing so wonderful as the shooting of a crystal. God has hid
den its principle as yet from the inquisitive eye of the 'philosopher, and we must be content to gaze on its cxquisite beauty, and listen in mute wonder to the noise of its invisible workmanship. It is too fine a knowledge for us. We shall comprehend it when we know how the morning stars sang together.
In the second sentence "on the ground” is an adjunct of “splintering,” not of “arrows,” and, therefore, the emphasis is not deferred from the latter. In the third sentence no emphasis falls on "crystal” because its shooting has been mentioned before.
You would hardly look for music in the dreariness of early winter. But before the keener frosts set in, and while the warm winds are yet stealing back occasionally, like regrets of the departed summer, there will come a soft rain or a heavy mist, and, when the north wind returns, there will be drops suspended, like earring jewels, between the filaments of the cedar-tassels, and in the feathery edges of the dark green hemlocks, and, if the clearing-up is not followed by the heavy wind, they will all be frozen in their places like wellset gems. The next morning the warm sun comes out, and by the middle of the warm, dazzling forenoon, they are all loosened from the close touch which sustained them, and they will drop at the lightest motion. If you go along upon the south side of the wood at that hour, you will hear music. The dry foliage of the summer's shedding is scattered over the ground, and the round, hard drops ring out clearly and distinctly, as they are shaken down with the stirring of the breeze. It is something like the running of deep and rapid water, only more fitful and merrier; but, to one who goes out in nature with his heart open, it is a pleasant music, and, in contrast with the stern character of the season, delightful.
In the second sentence “cedar-tassels” is followed by the bend, the partial close comes on hemlocks.” A very short pause follows“ places.” In the fourth sentence, and in similar passages, related words and phrases like “If you go along upon the south side of the wood” are grouped together; so with at that hour.”
Winter has many other sounds that give pleasure to the seeker for hidden sweetness; but they are too rare and accidental to be described distinctly. The brooks have a sullen and muffled murmur under their frozen surface; the ice in the distant river heaves up with the swell of the current, and falls again to the bank with a prolonged echo; and the woodsman's axe rings cheerfully out from the bosom of the unrobed forest. These are, at best, however, but melancholy sounds, and, like all that meets the eye in that cheerless season, they but drive in the heart upon itself. I believe it is ordered in God's wisdom. We forget ourselves in the enticement of the sweet summer. Its music and its loveliness win away the senses that link up the affections, and we need a hand to turn us back tenderly, and hide from us the outward idols, in whose worship we are forgetting the high and more spiritual altars.
In the second sentence, the short pause which should follow “brooks” gives more force to what comes after. With "heaves up” and “swell” the reader should drag the voice and seem to listen. In order to get the right inflections in this sentence, put it into simple talk and practice it first as such ; as: The murmur of the brooks, the crashing of the ice in the river, even the ringing of the woodsman's axe, are melancholy sounds; all that meets the ear is like all that meets the eye.
Let the fall of the voice on "eye" be as complete as if a period followed.
THE BATTLE OF BLENHEIM.
BY ROBERT SOUTHEY.
It was a summer evening,
Old Kaspar's work was done,
Was sitting in the sun,
The poem begins with a simple statement, and the voice therefore falls at the end of the first two lines.
“Evening” is emphasized because in telling a story, the first thing is to place the scene or set the time.
A slight emphasis may come on “by” in the fifth line. In the last line, emphasis may be deferred from "grandchild” to “Wilhelmine."
She saw her brother Peterkin
Roll something large and round,
In playing there, had found;
That was so large and smooth and round. “In playing there” is parenthetical, and is given with the bend.
Old Kaspar took it from the boy,
Who stood expectant by ;
And with a natural sigh,
Everything in the tone and replies of the old man should show his stupidity. In the third line the emphasis may be omitted on "head.” The fifth line may be given either with the falling or the waving slide. Emphasis may be deferred from "skull” to “victory," but the effect would not be as good.