As this week celebrates World Read Aloud Day (one of our favourite days), we thought it’d be apt to showcase the aural in written form. Voices are instantly recognisable, comforting or sometimes jarring – for instance, when we think we can hear whispers in the dead of night but it turns out to be the sound of the wind (which would be easily mistaken for a person with its force at the present time). Voices give the human presence to words that have been written long ago, and that’s one of the reasons why reading aloud is such an important factor in helping us to feel closer to literature and one another.
‘Reading aloud makes me feel close to everyone in the room. Our heads get stuck in the story and we’re all sharing the adventure together. We laugh, we smile, we sometimes cry – it’s exhilarating and makes you feel ALIVE!’
Why not get your vocal chords warmed up in time for World Read Aloud Day on Wednesday by reading this poem by Thomas Hardy?
Woman much missed, how you call to me, call to me,
Saying that now you are not as you were
When you had changed from the one who was all to me,
But as at first, when our day was fair.
Can it be you that I hear? Let me view you, then,
Standing as when I drew near to the town
Where you would wait for me: yes, as I knew you then,
Even to the original air-blue gown!
Or is it only the breeze, in its listlessness
Travelling across the wet mead to me here,
You being ever consigned to existlessness,
Heard no more again far or near?
Thus I; faltering forward,
Leaves around me falling,
Wind oozing thin through the thorn from norward
And the woman calling.
We hope you’ll join us in reading something aloud to celebrate World Read Aloud Day this year. You can let us know what you love about reading aloud by tweeting us @thereaderorg and adding the hashtag #WRAD15
Another month is nearly coming to a close, and with the approach of March around the corner we can look forward to lighter nights, bursts of Spring sunshine (we hope) and flowers and a renewed vibrancy all around. In these final days of Winter, it’s worth remembering that beauty can be found everywhere we look – perhaps sometimes it takes a little more than a passing glance to seek it out and it may even change from one day to the next, but it’s there to help keep us buoyed through the last icy blasts.
If you’re having trouble finding something beautiful to muse on this Monday, then it’s well worth reading this poem from William Henry Davies – and as St David’s Day is coming up at the weekend, it’s all the more appropriate (lots of beautiful things to be seen in Wales, where we’re sure W.H. Davies got some of his inspiration for this verse from).
Cold winds can never freeze, nor thunder sour
The cup of cheer that Beauty draws for me
Out of those Azure heavens and this green earth —
I drink and drink, and thirst the more I see.
To see the dewdrops thrill the blades of grass,
Makes my whole body shake; for here’s my choice
Of either sun or shade, and both are green —
A Chaffinch laughs in his melodious voice.
The banks are stormed by Speedwell, that blue flower
So like a little heaven with one star out;
I see an amber lake of buttercups,
And Hawthorn foams the hedges round about.
The old Oak tree looks now so green and young,
That even swallows perch awhile and sing:
This is that time of year, so sweet and warm,
When bats wait not for stars ere they take wing.
As long as I love Beauty I am young,
Am young or old as I love more or less;
When Beauty is not heeded or seems stale,
My life’s a cheat, let Death end my distress.
William Henry Davies
“Love is a smoke raised with the fume of sighs;
Being purged, a fire sparkling in lovers’ eyes;
Being vexed, a sea nourished with loving tears.
What is it else? A madness most discreet,
A choking gall, and a preserving sweet.”
Valentine’s Day might have passed for another year but we’ve got one of literature’s greatest love stories very much on our minds with some exciting news…
After two previous spellbinding visits, we’re delighted to announce that Shakespeare’s Globe is returning to Calderstones Mansion House this summer with the Bard’s classic and arguably most popular tale of two star-crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet.
Following the versions of King Lear and Much Ado About Nothing that proved to be surefire crowd-pleasers with audiences in Liverpool, The Globe on Tour will visit the Garden Theatre again in July to present the tragic but compelling story. Following performances on the Globe’s stage, a small troupe of travelling players are taking to the road to perform a stripped-down version unlike anything seen before, breathing new life into one of the greatest of all love stories.
We’re sure you’re aware of how the tale goes, but in case you need a reminder…
Please contact The Globe’s Box Office on 020 7401 9919 if you want to book for a Group; if you require access bookings; if you have children U18 or would like to use Theatre Tokens.
N.B. Concessions do not apply to Senior citizens for theatre performances. Discounts cannot be applied retrospectively.
Shared reading group members and volunteers
The Reader Organisation has a limited number of £15 discounted tickets for shared reading group members and volunteers which can be obtained through your group leaders. Please note: these tickets are not available through The Globe’s website, only physically through group leaders.
The performances will take place outdoors so please bring a picnic rug or low-backed seat and suitable clothing for all weather conditions. The plays will go ahead in all but the most extreme weather conditions.
Tickets are likely to go fast, so make sure you snap yours up quickly!
We’ll keep you posted with all the news in the months to come, but in the meantime you can join in the conversation on Twitter using the hashtags #RomeoandJuliet and #GlobeOnTour
We’re advocates of poetry being read everywhere at The Reader Organisation – on the bus or train, in a park (as quite a few of us have done at our HQ at Calderstones), in the bath (though you run the risk of the words getting soggy)…the wonders of technology have helped overcome the pitfalls of the last option, and recently a wider-scale innovation has brought verse to the physical world. To mark the 300th anniversary of the 1715 Jacobite uprising, one of Sir Walter Scott’s poems has been projected onto the landscape in the Scottish highlands. On the Massacre of Glencoe commemorates one of the most significant events of the first Jacobite uprisings in the country when 38 members of the Clan MacDonald were killed by visiting government troops, and is just one verse of many tributes and songs to do so.
The rather breathtaking marriage of literature and nature is something to behold, especially when the words have such resonance with a certain area, such as Scott’s verse with Glencoe. You can view the beautiful effects of the projection here (thanks to Brain Pickings). Here’s another of Scott’s poems which casts an eye out to nature, relating it closely back to the person.
The Dreary Change (The sun upon the Weirdlaw Hill)
The sun upon the Weirdlaw Hill,
In Ettrick’s vale, is sinking sweet;
The westland wind is hush and still,
The lake lies sleeping at my feet.
Yet not the landscape to mine eye
Bears those bright hues that once it bore;
Though evening, with her richest dye,
Flames o’er the hills of Ettrick’s shore.
With listless look along the plain,
I see Tweed’s silver current glide,
And coldly mark the holy fane
Of Melrose rise in ruin’d pride.
The quiet lake, the balmy air,
The hill, the stream, the tower, the tree,
Are they still such as once they were?
Or is the dreary change in me?
Alas, the warp’d and broken board,
How can it bear the painter’s dye!
The harp of strain’d and tuneless chord,
How to the minstrel’s skill reply!
To aching eyes each landscape lowers,
To feverish pulse each gale blows chill;
And Araby’s or Eden’s bowers
Were barren as this moorland hill.
Sir Walter Scott