On Thu, 19 Mar 1998, Alan Baker wrote:
> The obvious example for me is Briggflatts... The other example
> for me is Carlos Williams - to hear his words spoken in his own accent...
- yup, and then there's Yeats intoning, and ol' mad Ezra - electrifying!
and so instructive, even if at times it suggests how NOT to read... David
Jones, reading "A, a, a, Domine Deus", a noise up out of the pit, Ann sez
it's the most terrifying sound she's heard, but then, she's led a
One of the most fascinating points about tongue vs type is that *you can
actually have both* - and neither of them are final, they still require
you, the eye-page-reader or the mouth-ear-listener, to make the spark jump
(it ain't finished then, but that's another story). The meditational
response-in-silence (which BB would surely have appreciated) is still
there, still viable. To Lorine Niedecker, whose lithe, tough, dynamic
poetry I ache to hear *sounded* (I mean when I read it I find myself
muttering under breath, in a way my family must surely find most
disturbing), silent reading was her only choice: she resisted all efforts
to make her read aloud.
But surely, no-one looking at the way poetry's developed so far can
disagree that *both are valid*. Aren't we a little late in the field to
query the validity of oral poetry (Aneirin? Taliesin? Heledd?)? To be
sure, ya takes risks when ya voice it - and hard decisions. But then, you
probably did that a thousand times in getting it to the stage where you
COULD voice it.
The point is, it simply isn't supportable to consider the words on the
page, printed, written, carved, collaged or hand coloured, as final.
Something else has to happen before they WORK.
Each performance which BB gave of _Briggflatts_ was different - variations
of pace and emphasis, and intonation, sometimes, to my ears, completely
altering the meaning (from other performances, and from the print
version). And all of them "valid", one doesn't replace another (tho the
Bloodaxe recording, done with the wrong Scarlatti, fade-outs and poor
acoustics, Bunting acknowledged as his least favourite).
There's immense scope for variety in performance, which most musicians
recognise and work to. Do you prefer Early Brendel or Late Brendel? Glen
Gould or Gustav Leonhardt? Me, I'm a Leonhardt man, but I like a bit of
Gould at the weekends. Spare a thought for Max Reger, boring German
organcomposer, who seriously suggested that no-one who could read an
orchestral score properly needed to go to a concert. Arrgh! How much he
missed! Tho, in his defence, it has to be said that (it seems) he used to
take the (adverse) reviews of his work to the toilet with him, and there
dictate his replies: "Sir: I have your comments before me - soon they will
be behind me..."
Uh, better shut up.