Monday, April 28, 2014

"Design" by Robert Frost

I found a dimpled spider, fat and white,
On a white heal-all, holding up a moth
Like a white piece of rigid satin cloth--
Assorted characters of death and blight
Mixed ready to begin the morning right,
Like the ingredients of a witches' broth--
A snow-drop spider, a flower like a froth,
And dead wings carried like a paper kite.

What had that flower to do with being white,
The wayside blue and innocent heal-all?
What brought the kindred spider to that height,
Then steered the white moth thither in the night?
What but design of darkness to appall?--
If design govern in a thing so small.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Caliban from The Tempest by William Shakespeare

Caliban by John Hamilton Mortimer

Today is the day we celebrate William Shakespeare's birthday. We don't know for certain that he was born this day in 1564, but we have his baptismal record dated April 26 and usually in those days in England babies were baptized three days after birth. Shakespeare also died on April 23rd in 1616, just barely having completed 52 years.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

"Voluptuous" by Walt Whitman

 A passage from Walt Whitman's Song of Myself
Performed by Bob Gonzalez

 I am he that walks with the tender and growing night,
I call to the earth and sea half-held by the night.
Press close bare-bosom'd night — press close magnetic
     nourishing night!
Night of south winds — night of the large few stars!
Still nodding night — mad naked summer night.
Smile O voluptuous cool-breath'd earth!
Earth of the slumbering and liquid trees!
Earth of departed sunset — earth of the mountains misty-topt!
Earth of the vitreous pour of the full moon just tinged with blue!
Earth of shine and dark mottling the tide of the river!
Earth of the limpid gray of clouds brighter and clearer for my sake!
Far-swooping elbow'd earth — rich apple-blossom'd earth!
Smile, for your lover comes.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

"They Flee From Me" by Sir Thomas Wyatt

Sir Thomas Wyatt

Performed by rhapsode Bob Gonzalez

For other poems practiced and rehearsed, click the link below:

Another practice session as I build my rhapsode performance repertory.

The performance of the poem begins the file and then I speak briefly about this rhapsode practice and rehearsal project and some plans for conducting more workshops on rhapsodizing soon and in preparation from my spring 2015 rhapsode tour. This is the format I will keep: performance of poem or poems at the front and then some talk afterwards, giving updates, sharing ideas, sharing some advice, if I have something worthy to share.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

A Tribute to the Rhapsodes of Ancient Greece

Red-figured Neck Storage Jar with rhapsode reciting
(courtesy of the British Museum)

As an introduction to the inspiration for the Rhapsodize initiative, I perform a passage from Plato's Ion, where Socrates addresses Ion, a famous rhapsode of the time. I then perform a Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite and the opening of Hesiod's Theogony in an accessible English translation. 6 min 40 sec

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Proem, or Prelude, to the Kalevala

Elias Lönnrot

Proem (Prelude) to the Kalevala by Elias Lönnrot,
translated by John Martin Crawford
Performed by Bob Gonzalez

The Kalevala first appeared in 1835, compiled and edited by Elias Lönnrot on the basis of the epic folk poems he had collected in Finland and Karelia.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Three Poems by Witter Bynner

Witter Bynner

I'm jumping the gun a little by posting this file here on my personal blog, since it is cued to be podcast via Rhapsodize International on April 19, our 19th offering for U.S. Poetry Month. But I was really anxious to try out the Podbean embedder from the new Rhapsodize Podbean site I started. There it is right above this paragraph. Isn't it a beauty?

I first encountered Witter Bynner when I stumbled upon a used copy of his poetic rendition of The Way of Life According to Laotzu in the Harvard University Bookstore on Commonwealth Avenue in Boston during the spring semester of my senior year. This book greatly enriched my life and I carried it with me for years afterward. I purchased copies for my most beloved friends and family, memorized portions, recited from it constantly. Years later, I heard a recording of Bynner performing his own poem, "A Thrush in the Moonlight," which I perform as the last poem in this three-poem collection. I can truly say this man made my life better than it would have been had I not encountered him.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Robert Herrick: Three Poems

performed by rhapsode Bob Gonzalez

Today's daily practice session for expanding my repertory. Constantly expanding repertory is an ongoing activity for every serious rhapsode. Poems for one's repertory could be divided into these categories: 1) memorized/ready to perform live from memory, 2) familiar/ready to be performed live with script in hand, 3) learning 4) to learn later. Of course, not all rhapsodes necessarily aspire to perform live, so categories 1 & 2 need not be part of the repertory of all rhapsodes. But certainly, if the poem is not "learned by heart," the common term for memorized, it should at least be well learned so that it can be performed intelligently, with perfect or excellent understanding of its meanings, and with great fluidity and commitment in the voice. Constantly searching for "new" classic poems to perform by reading as many books of poetry as possible and listening to other performances of classic poetry should be part and parcel of a serious rhapsode's daily activities.