Research suggests that smells and sounds are most effective in evoking our memories. It seems to be the case as far as I am concerned. Smells certainly seem to bring forth the most vivid memories but sounds aren’t far behind. Earlier this week, I heard the sound of an old rotary phone ringing. I have no idea how many years it had been since I’d heard that once pervasive sound but it got me thinking.
So many of the common, everyday sounds with which I grew up have vanished or are rarely heard today. This reality prompted my latest poem, The Sounds of Yore. I hope you take a moment to enjoy it. If you’re near my age or older, it’ll be a trip down memory lane. The very young may not be able to relate but in 20 or 30 years they will, believe me!
The Sounds of Yore
There are fond sounds which I no longer hear
sounds from my youth which have grown so dear
sounds that were simply part of life’s soundtrack
but are now memories that I’d like to have back
so bear with me a moment as I reminisce
and recall a few sounds that I so miss
like the gurgle of coffee as it’s percolated
the sound of the brew for which Dad waited
Richard Burton reads “Under Milkwood” by Dylan Thomas
There was a day when listening to the spoken word was a common and popular form of entertainment. Before the advent of television, radio and motion pictures, people gathered to hear writers read aloud their tales and poets recite their verses. But these were more than mere a reading of words, the words were enacted. The words were given life in the tones, inflections and dramatic pauses in the voices of the readers. Pace, volume, hesitation and more were part of the craft. Readings were an event and captured the imagination. It was the original form of acting.
Today, stories are enacted before us in complete and graphic detail in glorious HD on the big screen. Little, if anything, is left to the imagination. This is where today’s entertainment falls short as far as I’m concerned. Stories can be more dramatic, more effective if something is left to the imagination. Graphic depiction is overrated. There is something to be said for fading to black at the appropriate scary moment, for intimating the love making, for titillating the imagination and leaving you hanging. Acting often takes a back seat to stunts and special effects. It seems there is precious little serious dramatic acting seen anymore. I believe that goes directly to the lack of great writing being made into scripts these days.
Someone recently posted this spoken version of Dylan Thomas’ “Under Milkwood” elsewhere. It’s a truly excellent example of what I described above. The recitation is by none other than the great actor, Richard Burton. Listen to his voice, how he uses it, how he doesn’t. This, my friends, is great acting and great entertainment. Enjoy it! I’d really appreciate your comments after you listen. Agree? Disagree? Couldn’t care less? Let me know. Thanks for reading!
Every year UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) celebrates March 21st as World Poetry Day. UNESCO adopted March 21st as World Poetry Day during their 30th session in Paris back in 1999. It’s been celebrated each year since.
The goal of World Poetry Day is “to support linguistic diversity through poetic expression and to offer endangered languages the opportunity to be heard within their communities. Moreover, this Day is meant to support poetry, return to the oral tradition of poetry recitals, promote teaching poetry, restore a dialogue between poetry and the other arts such as theatre, dance, music, painting and so on, support small publishers and create an attractive image of poetry in the media so that the art of poetry will no longer be considered an outdated form of art but one.”
Poetry truly is a universal language and art form and goes far beyond any single language and culture. There is such wonderful poetry to be found from around the world be it English, Urdu, Hindi, Japanese or whatever. The rich diversity of language and culture is what makes reading poetry such a profound experience. To celebrate World Poetry Day this year, I’ve decided to step out and read the works of a variety of poets from around the world. Fortunately, I don’t have to be able to read their native tongues as many great works have been translated into English. May I suggest you do likewise? Put down the Frost, Dickinson or Shakespeare and read some Omar Khayyam, Jean Cocteau or Kobayashi Issa. Celebrate the true spirit of World Poetry Day!