Monday, December 03, 2007



..tonight I read Yeats for about an hour, and I shall do this. An hour in the morning and again at night. Up to the inventing of Caxton's press, and for most people long after, all reading was done aloud. Most people were incapable of reading silently. And Eliot says that the best thing a poet can do is read aloud poetry as much as he can. This should be sound. Silent reading only employs the parts of the brain that are used in vision. Not all the brain. This means that a silent reader's literary sense becomes detached from the motor parts and the audio parts of the brain which are used in reading aloud - tongue and ear. This means that only one third of the mental components are present in their writing or in their understanding of reading - one third emotional charge. This explains Amis and Wain and the rest, -. Painting is successful within its limits using only this part of the brain because it uses exclusively visual symbols. But only a fraction of a verbal idea is visual. And these people, besides naturally lacking the other essential components of ear, touch, muscle etc are frightened of a visual effect for theoretical reasons. The only thing they can do then, is to cultivate arch attitudes, or a hocus of mathematical dexterity, which deceives only their own inferior breed which in an age of silent cram-readers are crowded over every page they care to write.The wind will get rid of those people, and there's no need to argue them away. This is quite true though - Beethoven composed singing and roaring and walking very fast and so did Dostoevsky - not singing but vociferating. So read aloud a lot, and read aloud poetry as you walk to and fro in your room timing the metre to your steps. This would be ideal but you'll think it too ridiculous. I am now going to make a cup of Chocolate a la Tomas Ortunio and retire....

Ted Hughes to Sylvia Plath
1&2 Oct 1956
The Letters of Ted Hughes
Ed. Christopher Reid
Faber & Faber 2007


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