Hi, this is Jason Bermingham on English Experts. For the past few weeks we have been training our English pronunciation with tongue-twisters. These are texts that often challenge English speakers with hard-to-say combinations of words that have little meaning.
Now we progress to the next level, moving from tongue-twisters to poetry. I am going to start reciting famous English-language poems, giving English Experts users an opportunity to follow along and improve your pronunciation as well as your literary knowledge. In the spirit of Halloween, our first poem will be “The Raven” by one of my favorite writers: American author Edgar Allan Poe. “The Raven” is a dark tale and one of the most famous poems in history. It’s wonderful to listen to, with its unique rhythm.
I will read three stanzas a week, first without stopping and then allowing you time to repeat after each line. The tongue-twisters were just for fun and there was no need to understand meaning. Here, I challenge you to really understand what Poe has written. If you get stuck, use the chat feature of this blog to ask other readers what they think. If you all get stuck I will help out, though there are passages that are a challenge even for a native speaker who has studied English Literature in college. “The Raven” has become a classic and you can even find it featured in a Halloween episode of the The Simpsons. So learn it and read it out loud and you will have English difficulty nevermore.
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore —
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“‘Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door —
Only this and nothing more.”
Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December;
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; — vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow — sorrow for the lost Lenore —
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore —
Nameless here for evermore.
And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me — filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
“‘Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door —
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door; —
This it is and nothing more.”
Now, one more time, giving you room to repeat. Go back to the start of the poem above, and repeat each line after me.
I’m Jason Bermingham on English Experts. For more on my work as a voice artist visit www.vozemingles.com. That’s right, in Portuguese, “voz em ingles dot com”. We’ll have more of “The Raven” next week.