Friday, September 1, 2017

One Reason Older Children Dislike Poetry Is Because They Don't Read It Well

       So much for the reason why little children like verses. But children do not stay little; they grow up, and the trailing clouds of glory disappear. The fact that most girls and boys of fourteen do not, of their own accord, read poetry, is as axiomatic as that most little children love verses. What has happened? If rhythm is a human law, why should not a big child feel its power as keenly as does a little one?
       There are, it seems to me, two answers to this question. The first is, that the little child has verses read to him, while the big child is expected to read them to himself. The average boy or girl, entirely unaided, cannot read poetry skillfully enough to bring out its beauty of rhythm, let alone its meaning. Its form looks strange and forced to him; to his untrained mind the thought is "twisted all around to fit the foolish rhymes and feet and things." It is small wonder he docs not like poetry. It would be a greater wonder if he did. The love of verses he had when he was five was based on the sound of those verses. His first rhymes and jingles were read, recited, or sung to him; their rhythm was accentuated by the reader or by the music, and his inborn human sense of rhythm was therefore pleased. If a kindergarten taught songs and verses by the method of making the children sit quietly in their little chairs reading verses to themselves, the songs would be the least popular part of the day's program. But when the kindergarten child becomes the boy or girl of fourteen, he or she is expected to read poetry to himself. This he cannot do, because he doesn't know how to read poetry. I know a woman who disliked poetry intensely until last summer, when, for the first time in her life, she heard a large part of "The Oxford Book of English Verse" read aloud by a man who knew how to read aloud.
       "Why," she said to me, "I never dreamed English poetry was so beautiful! I have always hated every bit I tried to read myself." 

reading poetry versus reciting poetry 

 1 - you are on page 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7

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