Reading - the first minutes
While reading "The Grammar of Light" (Carol Anne Duffy) recently I tried to
introspect. Here's what I think I did.
What can one draw from that? Not much, especially if I'm an atypical
reader, though I think other readers may also well absorb effects in a
(rather than depth-first way), latching onto an organising principle
(usually a voice or narrative) before delving deeper. Structure-wise I think
I look at visuals, then
rhyme/rhythm/word-repetition/alliteration, then syllabics, then more
obscure sound textures. I guess editors might read the end before the middle - the final
verse/line often has the most effects.
- I noticed that each verse had 5 lines and the line-lengths were
roughly the same.
- I read the piece - first quickly and uniformly, then slowly and partially.
I noticed the imagery, the dawn-to-dusk, birth-to-death trajectories.
I noticed that "The way" is
repeated in each verse (twice in the final verse) and that there's a final
rhyming couplet. I also noticed the tongue-twisting "shy stars go stuttering".
- I then started
counting beats/syllables. The first 3 lines have 11 syllables (aha!) but
later it becomes clear that there's not a pattern.
- Scanning the page I then noticed "barely
... bless both" (close on the physical page, but not close to the ear) and
"slurs its soft wax, flatters. Shadows" (which uses the s/x/sh
sound-complex densely, but doesn't strike my ear as strongly as the shy
Updated December 2006