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From: Sidney-Spenser Discussion List [mailto:[log in to unmask]]On Behalf Of Dorothy Stephens
Sent: Wednesday, February 25, 2004 1:43 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: good myths and bad or indifferent writing (on Spenser)
And yet, Andrew, we don't feel the impediment of pronunciation when reciting Shakespeare, even though the finest RSC actors don't use the accent or even pronunciations with which Shakespeare himself probably spoke. When I read Donne to my classes, I sometimes trip on the word "love" when it rhymes with "move," but otherwise I don't find myself worrying about the fact that my American English is remote from his, so long as I make it feel natural on my tongue. Similarly, I don't know for sure how Spenser pronounced "ne," but because its position in the phrase usually seems to call for a very short syllable, I pronounce it to rhyme with the first syllable of "begin" and proceed on my merry way. I make my students read Spenser aloud, and I always have a few in the class who say they've been doing it in their spare time at home, enjoying the music. I can't believe we can read the Epithalamion or the FQ stanzas about Morpheus's cave silently, without at least feeling them on our pulses (to risk that allusion). This doesn't mean, of course, that he doesn't also work with effects that the voice can't reproduce in one reading--such as the two possible pronunciations of "Busyrane"--but this is to say that he counts on our wanting to reproduce the poem in our ears and upon our sometimes being frustrated of doing so in any simple way. He works in a multilayered-counterpoint aurally, as he does allegorically.