On 9/1/2011 1:53 PM, Chokh Raj wrote:
> There is poetry in the play.
> Sir Alec Guinness reads an excerpt from TS Eliot's verse play The Family
> Date: Thu, 1 Sep 2011 19:13:36 -0400
> From: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: Poetry in 'The Family Reunion'
> To: [log in to unmask]
> I didn't like it much. Guinness read it as if it were poetry.
On 9/3/2011 9:34 AM, Diana Manister wrote:
> Rick, I don't know how you can say that Eliot did not write this play as
> poetry. Guinness is only following Eliot's cadences.
> Rick, I don't know how you can say that Eliot did not write this play
> as poetry.
Well, I didn't. Perhaps I should change what I wrote to something
closer to what I meant.
Old: I didn't like it much. Guinness read it as if it were poetry.
New: I didn't like it much. Guinness read it as if it were a poem.
The other part of what I wrote, a paraphrase of Eliot or one of his
critics, should be a hint that I know about his poetry:
> He was supposed to read it like an ordinary person would speak
> if ordinary people spoke poetry.
I did a half-hearted attempt at getting the real quotation and the best
I could find was Eliot's essay "Poetry and Drama" in OPP.
[In The Family Reunion] my first concern was the problem of the
versification, to find a rhythm close to contemporary speech ...
Eliot made a distinction between prose, verse and ordinary speech
(mostly below the other two.) He said that prose and verse were
both different from ordinary speech. While prose is accepted by
audiences, although a bit removed from their ordinary experience,
bad verse can lead the audience from identifying the characters'
world as like their own.
So, my take on Guinness' excerpts from "The Family Reunion" are
that they are what TSE wanted to avoid. The lines read with long
pauses between them, heavy emphasis placed on some (too many)
words, syllables dragged out etc. Essentially the verse read
as if at a poetry reading. I liked some of the other Eliot
readings done by Guinness though. At least one of the poems
done by him (New Hampshire) sounds more like like regular speech.
Sir Alex doing "The Family Reunion":
Obi Wan doing "New Hampshire":
Another short Eliot poem "Morning at the Window" has a few
renditions on Youtube. I've chosen two to demonstrate it read as
(1) a poem (i.e., with some of the features I mentioned above) though
not in such a heavy of a style as Guinness reading the play.
(2) somewhat closer to prose or ordinary speech (although not quite
"Morning at the Window," by TS Eliot
P.S. In "Poetry and Drama" Eliot criticizes some of his own plays.