by Florence Flogelin
Orthophony; or The Cultivation of the Voice in Elocution
William Russell 39th edition, 1871
To persons whose habits are studious and sedentary, and especially to females, the vigorous exercise of the organs of respiration and of voice, is, in every point of view, an invaluable discipline.
That poetry should come to this!
Garrison Keillor’s celebration, mid-July,
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day. . . .
a lugubrious monotone ending lines in downspeak:
alas, the current sad-sack poet’s voice.
Chapter I: Respiration or Exercises in Breathing
A few weeks of diligent cultivation are usually sufficient such that, with a feeble and ineffective utterance, persons may attain the full command of clear, forcible, and varied tone.
Proper elocution was schooled — voice training —
with sentences, here on view, examples, low to high, pitch. . . . stress . . . force. . . .
impassioned, whispering, half-whispering. . . .
from Tranquility to Joy and Triumph, Awe, Scorn,
Awe, Horror, Exultation, Defiance, Awe — successively.
You see a page of poetry
but can you listen to it? Synch your lips with mine?
Say it, say the poem, said Robert Frost,
even if it’s memorized. Especially if it’s memorized.
The poem shapes your mouth. It tells you where to breathe.
I was thrilled to see two placards created—like 19th-century Power Point — by a fine calligrapher as teaching aids to instruct students in public speaking and the reading aloud of poetry and prose. The hilarious and wonderful sentence samples sent me to Google, then to Amazon , then to the Norwich Bookstore for a copy of the book on which the samples were based: Orthophony, or the Cultivation of the Voice in Elocution. 39th edition, 1871. This find may well lead me to write a set of poems, since I find the subjects it raises complex and wide-ranging, for example, musical notation applied to poetry. And I have long noted the varied styles (and talents) of poets when reading their own works.
About Florence: Florence Fogelin moved from Connecticut to Union Village in 1980 and was editor of Vox of Dartmouth until 1990. Since 1997 she has resided in White River Junction. Her first book of poems, Once It Stops, was published in 2015.